COVID-19 is upon us and we need to take action to protect our colleagues and our community. We are particularly concerned because many people with differing abilities have immune system issues and therefore, are particularly vulnerable to this virus. For example, people with Down syndrome, like our co-founder and inspiration, John Cronin, are susceptible to respiratory illnesses.
As part of our effort to address this crisis, John’s Crazy Socks will host a Training and Education Session presented by with Kathy DiBenedetto, the Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center.We will broadcast this session online on the John’s Crazy Socks Facebook page:
Date: Thursday, March 19
Time: 1:05 p.m. EDT
Where: The John’s Crazy Socks Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/johnscrazysocks/
Accessible to a general population, this session will be tailored to our workforce and the general population of people with a differing ability. This session will address not only the need to wash our hands, but good techniques for washing hands. We will address sneeze and cough etiquette and the meaning and practice of social distancing.
John Cronin, co-founder and inspiration for John’s Crazy Socks, said, “It is important to learn how we can protect ourselves and others.”
In addition to the good health programs, John’s Crazy Socks is rolling out to initiatives designed to spread happiness during what are often bleak and stressful times:
- The “Spreading Happiness Show with John and Mark”: Each evening at 7 p.m. EDT, John and Mark are hosting a live show on Facebook designed to spread happiness. They will bring a little cheer and smile to your day. You can watch the show here: https://www.facebook.com/johnscrazysocks/
- While we have suspended our warehouse tours, John’s Crazy Socks will roll out a schedule of virtual tours that anyone can take. It will give people around the world a chance to learn about John’s Crazy Socks, see what people with differing abilities can do, meet John and ask questions.
A Small Business Confronts the Coronavirus
By nature, we are a very social organization, we welcome visitors to our facility and spend time at public events and speaking at conferences and meetings. Many of our staff are huggers. Implementing a program to address COVID-19 will require changes throughout our organization. And while we are encouraging people to work from home, the reality is that fulfilling online orders requires that our Sock Wranglers and Happiness Packers be physically present at our facility.
We have consulted with Kathy DiBenedetto, the Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center and her staff to devise a plan. We have also consulted information provided by the Centers for Disease Control, Autism Speaks and the National Down Syndrome Society. We are focusing on three issues:
- Educating ourselves and our colleagues on the best health practices
- Engaging in positive health practices
- Reducing physical interaction a.k.a. social distancing
We are investing time to educate our colleagues. In addition to the Education and Training Session provided by Good Samaritan Hospital, we provide daily reminders on good health practices. We are also providing material to both educate our colleagues and reinforce their learning.
Positive Health Practices in the Workplace
We start by requiring anyone who is feeling sick to stay home. We will encourage anyone not feeling well to consult with his or her personal doctor. We have reviewed our personnel policies to ensure that it is easy for an employee to stay home and take care of his or her health. We are paying our hourly employees a bonus if they need to stay home due to illness on a day they are scheduled to work. We are asking sick employees to remain home for 14 days or until cleared by a physician.
Upon entering our building, we will require all employees to wash their hands. Given that many of our colleagues have a differing ability, we are establishing a schedule where all employees wash their hands every two hours. We will have reminders on how to thoroughly wash one’s hands.
We are taking these additional actions:
- We are conducting a thorough cleaning of the facility.
- We are establishing a schedule to wipe down common surfaces three times per day.
- We are putting up educational posters on hand washing and sneezing and coughing etiquette.
- We will provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees.
- We are encouraging our employees to avoid physical contact, so no more handshakes or hugging. (We have a lot of huggers.)
- We are providing gloves for use with inventory.
Reducing Physical Interaction
We need to reduce physical contact and promote social distancing. In accordance with the directions issued by Governor Cuomo, we will have no more than half our workforce in our facility at any one time. More specifically, we will limit to six the total number of Sock Wranglers working in our warehouse at any one time. That will reduce the density of people in our facility.
We want to limit outside visitors to our facility, so we are taking these steps:
- We are suspending all warehouse tours and offering Skype visits instead.
- We are suspending all workgroups.
- We are asking employees to bring lunch or to order out which we will do collectively.
- We will provide drinks and snacks to minimize the need to leave and come back into the building.
We are encouraging those who can work from home to do so and we have provided the resources necessary to make this possible.
Mark and John have suspended their speaking engagements and public appearances. For the duration of this crisis, John will no longer be posing for individual pictures, which frequently involve hugs and close personal contact. We can offer Skype presentations as an alternative to in person appearances.
We take these steps to protect our colleagues and to slow the spread of this virus in the community.