Unity Farm Sanctuary and COVID Planning
You might think a farm sanctuary doesn't need cyber-liability insurance (we do because we track social security numbers associated with donations). You may not think that a Farm Sanctuary needs a comprehensive COVID plan.
We need a plan for five reasons
- We are a community gathering point for over 100 volunteers and hundreds of people taking enrichment classes including Yoga, Tai Chi, Meditation, Beekeeping, and Council on Aging activities.
- We are an employer with full time and part time workers
- We are accountable for the health of more than 250 creatures. Without humans, these creatures would lack daily care
- As the economic impact of job losses reduces the ability of the community to support its animals, sanctuary services become increasingly important
- The community is looking to us for guidance
So what did we do? Weeks ago, we realized that aggressive measures were needed. We closed the farm sanctuary to the public. We paused all classes. We put the volunteer program on hold. We began an aggressive disinfection/biological isolation protocol.
At this point, only my wife and I plus 3 key employees come to the property. Here is the email we sent to the community a few weeks ago
"My valued friends,
Effective immediately, Unity Farm Sanctuary is limiting access to the Sanctuary
Here's important background information
Currently, the vast majority of sanctuaries surveyed (on the two international sanctuary groups I belong to) have eliminated all volunteers and only have the smallest number of staff possible to run their sanctuaries. They all state that the owners and the core staff must stay as healthy as possible and limit their exposure. Most of us who run sanctuaries are most concerned too about feed supply-chain. Core staff will be focused on this this week.
If our core staff is sick, we will be in a VERY difficult place. (I am actually in a higher risk group from my own immune system - I am a breast cancer survivor, I have Graves Disease, I have had pneumonia in the past, I am very vulnerable to upper respiratory virus as a general rule, and I am nearing 60.)
Starting Monday, no volunteers will be onsite, no visitors, no tours, no classes. Staff will be pared down to the smallest group of core people we can manage. This will hold at minimum to April 6, and based on what I know from our connections through John's connections to experts, in our country you can expect at least an 8 week timeframe on groups, gatherings and interpersonal contact limits.
Please take social distancing seriously. I am restricting volunteers here so that I keep you healthy too. I want to hear that every single one of you is doing well and safe. I will be posting on newsletters, Instagram and FB as much as possible so that people do not feel disconnected.
And here is what we communicated to the staff
"Staff that is remaining on schedule will be following these precautions:
-All plastic and metal surfaces outside the house will be wiped down at noon and 7pm with bleach wipes. Inside the Unity Meeting House we will focus on kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and tables (handles, knobs, hayboxes, steering wheels,,,,)
-Staff should have no reason to go upstairs, so please stay on the first floor of the house so we do not need to wipedown the entire 2nd and 3rd floor as well.
-Wash hands thoroughly throughout your shift (and at home!)
-Keep distance between staff members (per CDC recommendations)
-If you or a family member are not feeling well or you believe you have come in contact with someone with COVID-19, stay home and self quarantine! (Let me know asap so we can find coverage)
In addition, we have been working hard to stock up on supplies (hay, grain, cleaning supplies)
Remember this is all temporary, and an effort to keep everyone healthy and safe so we can continue to care for our animal residents. If anyone has any questions please feel free to email, text, or call. "
The COVID pandemic will be filled with stories of amazing leadership and inspiration. This once in century event effects all of us, even the citizens of Unity Farm Sanctuary. We're doing our best to ensure every creature is comforted as we shelter in place.