The U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood leadership held a virtual town hall Wednesday to provide updates on local policies regarding COVID-19.
Maj. Gen. Donna Martin, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, spoke on some changes to policy while reiterating the efforts required to continue the “momentum in flattening our curve.”
“Protecting the force remains my No. 1 priority,” she said. “We must protect our most precious assets – our people – while at the same time continuing to train and to ensure Army readiness.”
By the end of this week, a total of more than 2,500 initial entry training graduates will have safely moved to other installations since the COVID-19 response began, Martin said.
“This is fantastic work by so many of our teammates,” she added. “The logistics readiness center, along with training units and staffs here and on the gaining ends are doing tremendous work. Successful movement increases readiness for units around the world.”
Martin said Fort Leonard Wood’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts are working and the following measures remain in place:
— post access is limited to Defense Department ID card holders only.
— mission-essential activities will continue on post.
— screening questions will continue to be asked at entry control points.
— graduations will continue to be virtual only with no family days authorized.
One change is that exceptions to policy are no longer required for family members to travel beyond 60 miles of the post. However, anyone seeking access to Fort Leonard Wood will still be subject to screening questions and instructions at the gate.
General Order No. 2 – which is applicable to all service members assigned to Fort Leonard Wood and supersedes General Order No. 1 – was signed by Martin Monday.
— businesses off limits to military members now include off-post gyms.
— non-official social gatherings can now include up to 10 people.
“Every single military member on our team should read and acknowledge General Order No. 2,” Martin said. “And I cannot emphasize enough, after you have read the order, if you have questions, engage the chain of command. They are the experts at your level and can best address individual situations for both military and civilian employees.”
Gregg Thompson, MSCoE deputy to the commanding general, provided information for DoD civilians working on the installation. However, he first thanked them for their service.
“We have thousands of civilians supporting our mission across this post,” he said. “Each of them takes and follows a sworn oath to support and defend our Constitution.”
Whether on post performing mission essential duties or whether performing work at home, he said “our civilian teammates have remained steady and supportive in response to COVID-19.”
“Each of you have been incredibly adaptive and they have supported our mission through this time with incredible skill, and we are personally grateful to each of you for that,” he said. “I have personally talked with many of our civilians, and, they are taking the response very seriously and are really holding themselves to the highest standards in following our guidance and instruction.”
Thompson highlighted some key points from the updated civilian leave memorandum of instruction:
— Exception to policy memorandums are no longer required for civilians taking leave, whether it’s for personal or medical reasons. Approval for civilian leave resides with the employee’s supervisor.
— A new leave worksheet must accompany the standard civilian leave form – OPM Form 71 – which provides supervisors with a general leave location and reminds employees to go for screening at the Harper In-processing Screening Clinic if the leave location is beyond 60 miles of the installation.
The telework memorandum of instruction has been updated and is now called the COVID-19 Workforce Management memorandum of instruction, Thompson said.
The new instructions reinforce that commanders and supervisors retain the authority to manage the day-to-day place of work for each employee and includes the latitude to designate employees for telework or in-office work locations.
“We will be operating in a new normal,” Thompson said. “This new normal may include a workforce stance that utilizes both telework and in-office workplaces to accomplish our missions.”
The updated MOI also calls for continued six feet of social distancing, and face coverings when social distancing is not possible. In addition, official indoor meetings will have 10 or less participants and outdoor meetings may have up to 40 attendees.
Thompson also said employees with health concerns should engage their supervisors, who will then consider and process requests using the reasonable accommodation principles for specific health concerns. Supervisors are expected to seek advice from the Fort Leonard Wood Civilian Personnel Advisory Center and the Equal Employment Opportunity Office regarding each individual case.
“I would just ask every employee and every supervisor to work these issues together and to remember the whole concept of mission first, people always,” he added.
Col. Eric Towns, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, thanked the community for their continued adherence to all risk mitigation measures as some facilities and amenities across the installation gradually reopen.
“That adherence ensures that we can continue to safely operate those facilities,” he said.
Towns also spoke on the status of maintenance in on-post housing.
“We will widen the aperture and begin executing those work orders that were on the lower scale of priority and those more routine preventive maintenance tasks,” he said.
The maintenance work force of Fort Leonard Wood’s housing partner, Balfour Beatty Communities, has been trained to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards on social distancing, protective equipment and disinfecting work areas. Community managers are in the process of calling households who made maintenance requests or who chose to defer their requests to discuss safely making appointments.
“This is a new way of doing business,” Towns added. “It’s to ensure the safety of both you as the resident and the safety of our maintenance workers. I appreciate your patience as we work through these unprecedented times and these newly evolving measures.”
This was the last weekly and regularly scheduled virtual town hall for the team, Martin said. Moving forward, her town halls or videos will only happen when significant changes merit them, she said.
“The command will – and I will – continue to communicate with you,” she said. “Leaders who have my guidance will continue to communicate at every level.”
For updates on Fort Leonard Wood, visit www.facebook.com/fortleonardwoodmissouri.
Before closing, Martin asked that everyone honor and remember “our fallen heroes” this Memorial Day.
“Their sacrifice, valor and patriotism are worthy of reflection,” she said. “Although the ceremonies and gatherings we typically hold are not possible, wherever you are in the world at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, I ask that you join us in one minute of silence in acknowledgment and gratitude of their tremendous sacrifice.”
Martin thanked the military, civilian, family, retiree and community members of Fort Leonard Wood for their efforts, adjustments and sacrifices made to help win on the COVID-19 battlefield.
“I am so proud to wear this uniform and to be a member of America’s greatest team,” she said.