NASA Tests Telecommuting Options as Part of Coronavirus Response

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Along with Other Government Agencies, NASA Tries “Telework Day” to Test Its Operational Capabilities for a Coronavirus Response

Today, March 6th, NASA officials decided to test a telework day for many agency employees. If successful, the test day will provide agency officials with options for an effective coronavirus response. 

According to Politico, NASA’s not the only government agency to run the test as a potential coronavirus response. The U.S. Air Force also participated in the activity. 

Presently, the telecommuting experiment remains solely precautionary, as the World Health Organization has yet to classify the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic. However, there’ve been more than 100,000 cases worldwide (the majority in China), and government officials aren’t taking any chances. Current data on the number of cases comes from Johns Hopkins University

Communicating the Plan

According to a message to employees, NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk said, “The purpose of this exercise is to test our capabilities, resources, and preparedness for large-scale teleworking.” He continued, “I encourage civil servants and onsite contractors who are telework-eligible to participate by working from an alternate location Friday.”

Also, Jurczyk instructed eligible employees to get in the habit of “taking your government-issued laptop computer and other essential items home daily.”  He added, “If the situation progresses… employees may not be allowed onsite to obtain necessary items.”

Unfortunately, Jurczyk’s message did not include a list of “eligible employees.” However, the fact that there are eligible employees implies that there are also ineligible employees. As such, some ineligible employees might work in cleanrooms or on secured equipment that can’t be removed. 

Other Agencies Respond

Along with NASA and the US Air Force, other space agencies around the world are working on their own coronavirus response plans. In fact, the European Space Agency (ESA) recently restricted access for external visitors. This is until they assess the efficacy of canceling conferences and other events. Additionally, JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency decided to close all of its field centers and exhibits last week. Canadian officials also indicated they will provide updates “…as new information becomes available.”

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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