After moving to nearly 90 percent telework in April, the State Department has entered the second phase of its reopening plan.

The Department is using a three-phase, conditions-based approach to reopen department facilities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department entered its first phase last month.

“After carefully assessing the local conditions and in close coordination with the Bureau of Medical Services, Department of State facilities in the National Capital Region (NCR) have moved to Phase 2, which allows up to 80 percent of Department employees to return to the office,” a State Department spokesperson confirmed to MeriTalk.

While up to 80 percent of employees will be able to return to the office, employees who are in vulnerable populations are not required to return to the office. Additionally, telework is still encouraged, given health, childcare, eldercare, and transportation concerns.

When back in the office, employees are expected to follow social distancing guidelines and mask mandates while at State Department facilities.

The spokesperson said that the Department is “using guidance from the White House, CDC, and local governments combined with objective criteria informed by data and good judgment.” Though it has entered the next phase, Department leadership “continues to monitor operational conditions.”

Federal agencies were given guidance back in March by the Office of Management and Budget on realigning the workforce and resources to slow the spread of COVID-19. The guidance in place urged utilizing maximum telework where possible.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.