The City of West Fargo is planning a phased return-to-work plan for employees in May, along with a phased plan to open up facilities to the public at a later date.
The city closed all public buildings on March 18 including City Hall, West Fargo Public Library, police headquarters, fire stations, public works buildings and sanitation are closed to the public. Closures had previously been set until May 1.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic has closed our facilities to members of the public, core services for the City of West Fargo has continued to be offered through alternative work settings,” said Tina Fisk, City Administrator. “I’m excited to move forward with a smart plan to get our staff safely back to the buildings and then opening back up to the public.”
According to Fisk, the timing of this returning to work will depend on the ability to get public buildings supplied with the proper measures to protect all staff and the visiting public. For the time being, departments and services have made changes to how they offer services to adapt to the pandemic.
West Fargo City Hall
West Fargo City Hall will be remain closed to the public as staff transition back to working in the building. Like all departments, employees will follow specific protocols to ensure proper hand washing, social distancing and sanitizing in the building.
Public meetings, including those of the West Fargo City Commission and Planning and Zoning Commission, will continue to use video conferencing. The City Commission meets next on Monday, May 4.
During this time, the building inspections office is following an adjusted procedure to take in permit applications, which includes emailing applications, placing payments in the drop box on the north side of the building and organizing inspections to occur with only the building inspections representative on-site. With the increased safety precautions, applicants should expect delays and inconveniences associated with the current situation.
The West Fargo Municipal Court has suspended hearings until Monday, June 1. Individuals scheduled for court from now until June 1 need to contact the City of West Fargo Municipal Court office at 701-433-5516 to make other arrangements.
West Fargo Public Library
The West Fargo Public Library will remain closed to the public until further notice. Library leadership is working to devise plans for library services. These plans are dependent upon access to personal protective equipment and supplies, staffing levels, physical distancing and sanitation protocols and current conditions related to COVID-19.
The West Fargo Public Library is offering alternative ways to interact with the public while adhering to those guidelines. These include no-contact curbside pickup beginning Monday, May 11, 2020. All holds and due dates are extended until at least June 10, 2020. At this time, patrons are encouraged to hold on to their materials until the library or book drop services reopen. Currently, the library is providing digital versions of popular programs, like story times and other resources as part of the West Fargo Public Library at Home! program.
West Fargo Fire Department
The West Fargo Fire Department will continue their current protocol of firefighters wearing protective gear while out in the public and special personal protective equipment for COVID-19 related calls. Staffing will remain in surge status until Saturday, May 23, 2020, which consists of an extra engine with 4 firefighters, 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
Members of the public who wish to visit the fire department will need to call to request a meeting, log in to the building, record their temperature (100.4 or higher will not be admitted), wash/sanitize their hands and wear a mask while visiting. The department is also looking to begin public education efforts again, but will begin groups will be limiting to a size of 10 people or less.
The West Fargo Police Department will continue with their current pandemic operations plans, which includes a closed lobby area and service window, and a suspension of fingerprinting and car seat services. Officers will also continue to wear protective gear, such as masks and gloves, while on duty. Officers are also only able to take calls via phone at this time to help limit their contact with the public.
The West Fargo Public Works Department will resume summer work hours starting Monday, May 4. All Public Works buildings will be closed to the public, except Sanitation, which residents can call to make an appointment to drop off sharps waste, such as needles and injectors.
Fisk said the startup plans are contingent and dates are subject to change depending on each department and facility becoming adequately supplied with the correct measures to keep staff and the public safe.
Staff in all departments and buildings will follow strict protocols to ensure proper hand-washing, sanitizing, social distancing and isolation protocols are followed. Video conferencing, phone and email will continue to be the preferred method for contacting City of West Fargo staff, with in person meetings not allowed without permission and approval from department directors.