djr-2020-03-13-news-tupelo-presser-twp3

Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton and City Council members discuss the local response to the COVID-19 pandemic in this file photo.

TUPELO • Mayor Jason Shelton has announced a new plan for how city employees will interact with one another and with the general public while the novel coronavirus continues to spread throughout the state.

The City Council convened a work session on Tuesday where Shelton told the members that as many full-time city employees who can work from home as possible without compromising the core functioning duties of the city will be allowed to do so.

If employees are working from home, they would continue to work using electronic means and could still be called into work at a municipal facility by an immediate supervisor to assist other city employees.

“I want to stress these employees are on call. They are not on vacation,” Shelton said. “If their supervisor says ‘Hey, we need you,’ then that person is to come in to work.”

In addition to reducing the number of employees in one given place, Shelton said he is mandating that employees who have traveled out of the country or to areas where COVID-19 has spread rapidly self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning.

Shelton’s announcement of sending employees home with issues related to the virus comes when the Mississippi Legislature is set to pass a bill that would allow school districts and local governments the option to grant employees impacted by the virus paid leave. Shelton said if the legislation does pass, he plans to utilize the provisions of the law and pay city employees if they are affected by the virus.

The council does not have to approve Shelton’s changes, but a majority of the council told the Daily Journal that they agreed with the steps he was taking to limit the spread of the virus.

“I appreciate that he’s in a little more relaxed format and not making harsh mandates,” said Ward 5 Councilman Buddy Palmer.

Ward 4 Councilwoman Nettie Davis told the Daily Journal that she sat in on some of the planning meetings for Shelton’s staffing changes and the city allowed input from all city department heads about how to best implement the changes. Davis said she appreciated the way Shelton conducted the changes.

Shelton announced that most city functions will continue to operate, but he is asking for all residents who have government business to schedule an appointment before coming to City Hall.

taylor.vance@journalinc.com

Twitter: @taylor_vance28

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