By Amanda Ensinger
The Prairie Township Trustees approved several changes to protect residents from the coronavirus, (COVID-19).
Spread via person-to-person contact, residents have been instructed by the state and federal government to stay at least six feet apart. The state also has a shelter in place order, resulting in the closure of all nonessential businesses. The Prairie Township Community Center has closed until further notice.
“We are treating this like the regular shutdown we do once a year,” said Michael Pollack, director of the community center. “We have drained the pool and are scrubbing it, cleaning all the machines, disinfecting everything, cleaning the carpets and just doing a good clean from top to bottom.”
The center also is professionally cleaning all the floors, replacing carpet squares, painting and ensuring when members come back to the center it is in the best possible condition.
“With no one in the building, it is a lot easier to do a deep clean,” Pollack said. “We can get to spots and clean areas that are hard to reach when we have people here working out or taking a class. When everyone comes back we think they will think it looks like a completely new center.”
Staff are helping with this cleaning and the township is trying to keep as many community center employees on as possible.
“The front desk staff is still here answering questions, the administration staff is working on database clean up and part-time staff are helping with essential cleaning,” Pollack said. “We also are looking at other projects the part-time staff can do in the township as the weather gets nicer to help other departments that are continuing to work.”
From landscaping to trash and debris cleanup, part-time community center staff can be crucial to the cemetery and roads department as they get the township cleaned up for the spring and summer.
“We have 60 to 70 part-time employees and six full-time employees,” Pollack said. “Obviously, we don’t have enough work for all our part-time employees, but we are trying to find work for as many people as possible.”
Currently, the community center has been able to keep approximately 10 part-time staff members working, as well as all six full-time employees. However, depending on how long this shelter in place order continues, that could change.
“We did have some employees volunteer to be temporarily laid off and let other employees who need to continue to work have the opportunities,” Pollack said. “Right now, we are taking this day-by-day and seeing where we have work to do and who can help.”
The community center is planning on being closed at least three weeks and will follow the order the state mandated for schools to stay closed until at least April 6. However, they said the closure could be longer.
Community center part-time employees can work up to 30 hours a week, however most part-time employees still working at the community center are not working that many hours. Many are facing pay cuts as a result of less hours to work per week even if they are lucky enough to continue to work.
The center plans on not doing their usual annual shutdown this year since they will be shutdown for several weeks as a result of COVID-19.
“We are trying to get through this the best we can,” Pollack said. “We have a lot of work to do here, so we are trying to take a tough situation and turn into an opportunity to get some of this important work done.”