Here at Pioneer Valley Books, we continue to provide literacy resources and support for thousands of teachers and students across the country, a service that our home state of Massachusetts has categorized as “essential.” We hope that teachers, children, and parents understand how deeply grateful we are for the meaningful work they are carrying on during these challenging times.
Because we believe it is our responsibility to actively support our employees, customers, and communities, we have implemented a variety of measures to minimize risk of COVID-19 infection for our team members and our clientele. This includes reinforcing employee education through regular communications on proven hygiene practices, as well as keeping the workplace clean. Equally important, we continue to gather feedback from our staff about additional needs, questions, and/or concerns in the workplace.
Our ongoing efforts are based upon recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and various health and safety authorities around the world, and include:
- Social Distancing: Employees must maintain the social distancing practice of at least 6 feet as work duties permit. The location of staff workstations within our 88,000 square-foot warehouse are specifically designed to facilitate social distancing.
- Face Masks: Staff are required to wear CDC-approved cloth face masks while at the workplace, reinforcing the effectiveness of social distancing protocols already in place.
- Hand Washing: Staff are urged to regularly wash and disinfect their hands throughout the day. Hand disinfectant dispensers are available to staff for frequent use.
- Gloves: Rubber and nitrile gloves are also provided for employee use although not required. Our primary emphasis is directed towards repeated hand washing and sanitizing.
- Cleaning and Disinfecting Workspaces: Employees regularly clean and disinfect workstations, electronics (computer/keyboard) and all shared tools such as tape dispensers, utility knives, pallet jacks, etc. Industrial grade disinfectant spray is provided in order to reduce the risk of contamination.
Beyond these foundational protocols implemented to protect our employees and customers, we also have in place guidelines to facilitate daily self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms. Prior to each work shift, workers are required to assess their current health condition by asking themselves if they are manifesting any of these coronavirus-specific symptoms:
Do I have a fever?
- The CDC considers a reading of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit a fever.
Do I have a persistent dry cough?
- A dry cough is one where no mucus or phlegm is produced.
- Am I experiencing breathing difficulties or shortness of breath?
Our Occupational Safety & Health Supervisor also conducts regular check-ins with staff to assist with self-monitoring and to address any questions or concerns.
The third component in our efforts to protect employees and customers consists of specific, science-based responses to the following scenarios:
- What should I do if I manifest COVID-19 symptoms?
- What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19?
- What should I do if I have been in close contact (within 6 feet for a prolonged period of time) with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
The most critical response dictated for any of these scenarios is STAY AT HOME.
Our protocols provide detailed instructions regarding the vital need of informing managers and supervisors of possible infection, specific timelines for how long an employee with a confirmed or potential infection must quarantine at home, and proven guidelines for when and how such an employee may return to the workplace.
Our contamination response also outlines proactive measures implemented in the event that the workplace has been compromised by a confirmed case of COVID-19. These measures include evacuating the building, ventilating the warehouse for a period of 24 hours, and employing industrial cleaning experts to deep clean and disinfect our facilities.
Finally, it is helpful to note that the WHO and the CDC have stated that the likelihood of COVID-19 contaminating cardboard or other shipping materials is quite low. Recent studies, for example, indicate that the virus can survive on cardboard for a period of only 24 hours, and on paper, a mere 3 hours.
As the CDC reminds us:
Despite the relatively low-risk nature of packing and shipping, we will never let our guard down at Pioneer Valley Books. We will continue to maintain best practices and rely upon the most up-to-date scientific information to demonstrate our sincere concern for the safety and well-being of our employees, customers, communities, and the readers we serve.
Updated June 2020