Wednesday, May 27, 2020

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    What it’s like to start a new job in the middle of a pandemic

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    Mallory Nassau

    Exactly two weeks after the Southeast Utah Health Department passed a health order that effectively closed Moab to visitors, Moab resident Mallory Nassau began a new job in the Grand County courthouse. At least, she would have, were it not for COVID-19. Instead, her first day of work was remote.

    “Starting the job in the middle of these challenging times has been interesting,” Nassau said of her first few weeks with the county.

    As the county looks to address an ongoing budget crisis compounded by a near-vacuum of tourism tax revenues this year, its budget requires major revisions, straining county employee workloads even as many face furloughs.

    The work these furloughed employees had on their plates has now gone neglected or flowed uphill, to Grand County Council Administrator Chris Baird. Nassau was hired to assist Baird — her official title is Grand County assistant council administrator — with the various administrative tasks he faces on a day-to-day basis.

    With Baird’s attention now shifting to making hard choices about the county budget, Nassau represents an additional hand on deck as the council and Baird navigate their way through new challenges.

    Nassau, formerly the community coordinator for the Grand County School District, began her job with the county March 31 — in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving her unable to say a typical goodbye to her former colleagues.

    “I left the school district days after the closures, and I didn’t have the opportunity to say goodbye to my coworkers,” Nassau said. “There is a traditional process of departing from one agency and starting with another, but that wasn’t possible. Day one at the county was and continues to be virtual, so I haven’t met the majority of the staff in person.”

    Of the job switch, Nassau said that her new role presents her with many of new duties that she is excited to begin addressing.

    “I truly enjoyed my job as the community coordinator, but the county job was appealing because it included so many of the components of work that I love,” Nassau said. “I am proud to be a part of the county and I am excited by all of the great work they are doing.”

    Although Nassau was initially working from home for the county, starting the job remotely presented serious challenges that were eventually alleviated when the county came up with a system that would give employees an opportunity to stop into or work from the office, all in relative safety.

    As Nassau starts this new chapter, she says she has been impressed with the county’s response to the pandemic so far and is confident in her new employer. “Those in charge of training me have gone above and beyond despite the challenges,” Nassau said. “There is so much unknown, but I am thankful to have a job in a time of such uncertainty.”

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