COVID-19 Resources

FAQs: Operations/Board Meetings

How do I maintain a safe work environment during COVID-19?

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and during various phases of restrictions, it’s a good idea to document how your district will reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. This can be done through a COVID-19 Protection Plan, which is a document that outlines the procedures, safeguards, and practices to be followed to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19. If you are working with a contractor on projects, they should provide their own COVID-19 Protection Plan. Important factors to consider for your own district plan:

Effective March 22, 2021 if you plan to recommence on-site services to the public, a “comprehensive COVID-19 exposure, control, mitigation, and recovery plan” is required for each professional service provider. If you plan to allow the public back into your conservation district offices under Phase 3, you will want to have such a plan in place and adhere to it. This may require updating existing policies and plans. Contact your regional manager if you have questions or need assistance. View the Professional Services Guidance.

How should CDs be conducting board meetings to reduce the spread of the coronavirus? What do districts need to keep in mind?

How to approach a board meeting is something that districts should be considering during this time. We recommend monitoring MRSC’s Open Public Meetings Act webpage to ensure you are in compliance with the current Governor’s Open Public Meetings Act and Public Records Act proclamation. You can also reach out to your regional manager, as the requirements and allowances can change on a frequent basis.

What is the most recent guidance on responding to public records requests during this crisis?

We recommend monitoring MRSC’s Public Records Act webpage for the latest developments. You can also reach out to your regional manager.

What information is available to conservation districts about retaining records related to COVID-19 response?

The Washington State Archives recently issued guidance about retaining records pertaining to COVID-19 response.

Can a district choose to temporarily suspend the practice of getting two signatures on district-issued checks?

Securing two authorized signatures on district-issued checks is a highly encouraged best practice and internal control, but it’s not required by the State Conservation Commission or the State Auditor’s Office. Each district needs to ensure that their bank does not require two signatures on checks and that district policy is followed. If a district chooses to suspend the two-signature practice during the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s highly encouraged that districts return to this best practice once the crisis has passed and perform additional scrutiny on all district financial transactions in the meantime.

Are there alternatives to handwritten signatures on a timesheet?

Yes, for the purposes of submitting CD employee timesheets to the SCC along with a voucher for any of our grants, there are alternate processes available to securing handwritten signatures. The alternative that will work best for your district depends on what tools you have available to you and your employees. Please work with your Regional Manager to determine the best alternate method for your district.

What measures can help temporarily reduce or eliminate the need for securing physical signatures from district supervisors?

There are a range of options to consider to temporarily reduce or eliminate the need for physical signatures from supervisors. Each can reduce controls and increase the risk of fraud. CDs should carefully weigh the different risks associated with each option. Your Regional Manager can assist with this analysis.

  • Paper paychecks and expense checks to staff can be replaced with direct deposit. Employers are not required to provide staff with a paper check so long as the timeliness requirements are met with direct deposit.
  • Contract signing authority can be temporarily assigned to the District Manager (or  where this exists the threshold can be temporarily increased).
  • Vendors normally paid by physical check can usually be charged to a district credit card. Credit use must be carefully monitored, here’s a tool to help you assess your controls.
  • If physical checks are to still be required, one of the signatures could be that of the District Manager.

If any of these measures are adopted, they can be revoked when the current emergency has passed or at any time the board chooses. It’s strongly recommended that the board increase oversight by carefully reviewing bank and credit card statements, along with all financial documents during this period to mitigate the risk of error and fraud. For assistance with questions or selecting alternatives to physical signatures, please contact your Regional Manager.

Contacts

  • Other questions about potential impacts to CD operations? Please contact your Regional Manager.
  • General questions about emergency preparedness and response? Please contact Bill Eller.
  • Have you found other resources that you think should be on this page? Please contact Laura Johnson.