Continuity of Operations Plan: Pandemic/Infectious Disease Outbreak



Since the threat to the United States District Court for the District of Kansas (Court) continuity of operations is great during a pandemic or infectious disease outbreak, the following policy and procedures have been developed to ensure the continuation of essential functions and services during a pandemic/infectious disease outbreak. While some operations may be suspended due to the severity of a pandemic/infectious disease event, these procedures can assist in continuing as many functions as possible, as well as strengthen the ability to resume operations.

This annex provides guidance for maintaining the Court’s essential functions and services during a pandemic/infectious disease outbreak. This guidance neither replaces nor supersedes the Continuity of Operation (COOP) plan. Rather it supplements the COOP plan and bridges the gap between traditional continuity planning and the specialized considerations, challenges and elements specific to a pandemic/infectious disease emergency.

The Court’s essential functions will be maintained during a pandemic/infectious disease outbreak through the following mitigation tactics:

·     teleworking,

·     social distancing,

·     increased hygiene, and/or

·     vaccination of personnel.
Concept of Operations

Activities and decisions during a pandemic/infectious disease outbreak are event-specific and complex. The Court will monitor the severity of a pandemic/infectious disease outbreak and establish continuity activation triggers to address the unique nature of the threat. These triggers will be based on information from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AO), the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other federal, state, and local public health officials.

This Pandemic/Infectious Disease Annex will be implemented as needed to support the continued performance of essential functions and services. This annex is to be read in conjunction with COOP Plan as appropriate. It supplements the COOP plan by addressing considerations and elements specific to pandemic and emerging infectious disease events.

Continuity Planning

During a pandemic/infectious disease event, all personnel will be informed regarding protective actions and/or plan modifications. Messaging and risk communications during an emerging pandemic/infectious disease event will be conducted by the Clerk of Court in coordination with the Management Team. Guidance and instructions on established infection control measures will be provided to assist in limiting the spread of the infectious disease at worksites.

Within the workplace, social distancing measures could take the form of modifying the frequency and type of face-to-face meetings; utilizing flexible work hours and remote worksites; promoting social distancing between personnel and visitors to maintain three-feet spatial separation between individuals; and implementing strategies for personnel with an infectious disease to stay home at the first sign of symptoms.

The Clerk of Court will monitor and adjust actions to changing conditions and improve protection strategies by:

·     assessing worker policy conformance and workplace cleanliness,

·     tracking and implementing changes in approved or recommended protection measures,

·     pre-positioning material and equipment onsite, and

·     coordinating with local public health and emergency response points of contact to ensure open, adequate communications.

Pandemic/Infectious Disease Planning Assumptions

The Court Pandemic/Infectious Disease Annex incorporates the following assumptions:

·     public health organizations are the lead agencies for outbreak response, monitoring, mass dispensing, case investigation, and prevention guidelines and standards;

·     news reports and social media may result in misinformation and add to a lack of confidence among the public in the ability of public health officials to manage the emergency;

·     confirmed cases of a pandemic/infectious disease in the area may cause a disruption in schools and the delivery of services,

·     efficient and sustained human to human transmission signals an imminent pandemic;

·     the time between infection, transmission, and the onset of symptoms will vary with each infectious disease/virus;

·     absenteeism rates may exceed 40 percent during the peak weeks of a pandemic outbreak and may not improve quickly;

·     there may be a very long duration before returning to normal operations;

·     the Court has a viable agency-wide continuity capability through its COOP plan,

·     access to the intranet, Internet, and essential records and systems will not be impaired,

·     travel restrictions, teleworking, social distancing, and other precautionary methods may require alternate operations,

·     the Court will be provided with guidance and/or direction by federal, state, and local officials regarding current pandemic/infectious disease status; and

·     the federal courthouses may be assessable, however right of entry may be limited.

Pandemic/Infectious Disease Response

Pandemic/Infectious Disease Emergency Response Team

The Clerk of Court or designee will lead a Pandemic/Infectious Disease Emergency Response Team to anticipate the impacts of a pandemic/infectious disease outbreak on operations and develop strategies to manage the effects of an impact.  The team members will consist of the Clerk of Court, Chief Deputy, Director of Administrative Services, Deputy Director of Administrative Services, and the IT Manager. Other team members may be added as needed.

Risk Communications

The Chief Probation Officer or designee will develop pandemic/infectious disease communication materials for dissemination to personnel, contractors, tenants, and external stakeholders. The dissemination of this information will include the emergency communication procedures and methods identified in the COOP Plan.

Elements of a Viable Pandemic/Infectious Disease Continuity Capability

Essential Functions

The Essential Functions and COOP Team members responsible for the continuation of Essential Functions are listed in the COOP plan.

Essential Functions Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) identify those Essential Functions which can be continued through telework, and which, if any, must be continued onsite. For those Essential Functions which must be continued onsite, the management team will notify employees who are expected to work onsite during a pandemic.

Every effort will be made to maintain as many business functions as possible during a pandemic/infectious disease outbreak.

Orders of Succession and Delegations of Authority

Since a pandemic may affect regions of the United States differently in terms of timing, severity, and duration, the COOP Plan, Annex B; Leadership and Staff, has identified orders of succession that are at least three deep per position.

Alternate Facilities

The traditional use of alternate facilities to maintain essential functions and services may not be a viable option during a pandemic. Rather, mitigation tactics reduce the likelihood of contacts with other people that could lead to disease transmission.

Considerations for disbursing essential personnel to various geographically separated alternate facilities will be based on the regional nature of the outbreak.

Continuity Communications

Workplace risk will be minimized through implementation of systems and technologies that facilitate communication without person-to-person contact. In order to provide proactive and open communications designed to ensure the safety of employees, contractors, and visitors, the Court will utilize:

·   telephone

·   email

·   videoconferencing

·   an Emergency Notification System (ENS), and

·   Court websites.

Human Resources

Although a pandemic/infectious disease outbreak may not directly affect the Court, a pandemic may ultimately threaten all operations by its impact on human resources. The health threat to personnel is the primary threat to maintaining essential functions and services during a pandemic/infectious disease outbreak. During a pandemic/infectious disease outbreak, it is reasonable to assume that a majority of personnel and their families will be impacted. An individual may become ill and/or need to take care of a sick family member, stay home to take care of school age dependents, assume additional responsibilities at work, and/or need to deal with the loss of family, friends, or colleagues.

The best strategy to reduce the risk of becoming infected with influenza during a pandemic is to avoid crowded settings and other situations that increase the risk of exposure to someone who may be infected. Basic hygiene and social distancing precautions that may be implemented to reduce the risk of exposure to pandemic influenza/infectious disease in the workplace include:

·  encouraging sick personnel to stay at home;

·  encouraging basic hygiene such as washing hands frequently with soap/hand sanitizer; avoiding touching noses, mouths, and eyes; and covering coughs/sneezes with a tissue or upper sleeve;

·  maintaining a separation of at least 6 feet from others; avoiding shaking hands and always washing hands or using a hand sanitizer after contact with others;

·  providing visitors with tissues, trash receptacles and a place to wash or disinfect their hands;

·  keeping work surfaces, telephones, and computer equipment clean by properly utilizing safe and harmless disinfectants registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);

·  discouraging personnel from using others’ phones, desks, offices and/or tools and equipment;

·  minimizing situations where groups of people are crowded together; using e-mail, phones and text messages to communicate and maintaining 6ft of separation when meetings are necessary;

·  reducing or eliminating unnecessary social interactions to control the spread of infectious diseases by implementing alternate operations such as telework wherever possible and restricting or eliminating visitors and public access to facility; and

·  promoting healthy lifestyles, including good nutrition, exercise and smoking cessation (overall health impacts the body immune system and can affect the ability to fight off, or recover from, an infectious disease).


The complexities of responding to a specific pandemic/infectious disease will require further development and policy updates throughout the outbreak.

U.S. Federal Court District of Kansas


U.S. Federal Court District of Kansas