Tualatin Hills parks will lay off part-time and seasonal workers
Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District, which has shut down virtually all its facilities and programs, announced Monday it will lay off all of its 762 part-time and seasonal employees.
The district had already announced that all programs and indoor facilities were closed through April 28. It had announced Sunday, a few hours before the latest stay-at-home order from Gov. Kate Brown, that it was closing playgrounds, athletic fields, sports courts and dog parks.
General Manager Doug Menke said that with no income from programs that are now canceled, the district has no money to continue to pay staff who work in those programs. Refunds were issued to people who paid the fees.
"This was an incredibly difficult decision and not one we wanted to make," he said in a statement. "The professionalism and the talents of our many part-time personnel are vital to our ability to serve the public.Â This staff represents our lifeguards, our class instructors, our after-school workers, and so much more. We value them greatly; however, given the reality we now face, this is our only course of action."
Parks and trails remain open to walking, running, hiking and biking. But users must maintain social distance of at least 6 feet from others, as specified in the governor's order, to slow the potential spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus linked to respiratory disease.
The district serves about 250,000 residents in Beaverton and nearby unincorporated communities, roughly following the boundaries of the Beaverton School District.
The statement specified steps the district is taking to help the laid-off employees:
• Rapid rehiring of staff once park operations resume and there is a need.
• Expediting the eligibility of those employees for state and federal unemployment benefits.
• Paying out unused sick leave in their final paychecks, but not counting those amounts against the eligibility of those employees for unemployment benefits. This is a one-time-only payments.
• Setting up a group to respond quickly to employee inquiries.
While the buildings and other facilities are closed temporarily, maintenance workers plan to deep clean them to lessen the risk of infection from the virus.
The board of directors issued a message after the latest round of closures and concluded:
"We promise we will return to normal operations as quickly as we safely can. Please know, your health and safety are our No. 1 concern, and we look forward to welcoming you back to our buildings, playgrounds, sports courts, and fields, as soon as we can. We hope you stay well — and please do enjoy the parks and trails during this challenging time."
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