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COVID-19 Communication to WTFP GP Training Providers

Middlesex 3 has been asked to share this letter and FAQ about the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on WTFP GP training programs. If you have any questions, please contact, Kristen Rayne (KRayne@commcorp.org).

Dear WTFP General Program Training Provider, 

At Commonwealth Corporation, we understand that the COVID-19 virus is creating tremendous uncertainty at work and in our day-to-day lives.  We recognize the major implications this virus is having on the organizations we support, their own staff members, training providers, and stakeholders. As we begin to understand the longer-term effects, Commonwealth Corporation is here to assist in problem-solving programmatic challenges that arise as a direct or indirect result of measures taken to support public health. We welcome any questions or concerns that you may have. 

Below, please find a few frequently asked questions and guidance for you to consider and share with your WTFP clients: 

Can we extend the 2-year grant period? We are aware many organizations have cancelled or needed to reschedule face-to-face trainings due to COVID-19 virus. If possible, we are strongly encouraging grantees to work with their training provider to offer remote training, virtual classrooms, webinars, etc. of planned content. At this time, Commonwealth Corporation is exploring options for grant period extensions, however, we don’t know if or when these options will be available. If your organization would like to be considered for a grant extension, please let your program manager know and we will inform you of status updates ASAP.  

If we were planning to offer a face-to-face training, can we convert it to a virtual classroom? If possible, we are strongly encouraging grantees to work with their training provider to offer virtual classrooms, webinars, etc. of planned content. If you decide to move your delivery method from a face-to-face classroom to a virtual classroom (with no changes to content or number of hours), approval from program staff is not required. Note this is different from offering a self-directed online solution (ie, a self-paced, self-study). If you are looking to replace existing training, a contract change request is required. Please reach out to your program manager if you have any questions or have any next steps that need to be taken. 

My organization is looking to replace some of the face-to-face, instructor-led training with a self-direct option. Is that allowed? Grantee must contact their program manager to request these changes. Approval must be received, in writing, prior to implementing changes. Grantees making unauthorized changes to their approved training plan or budget risk having disallowable costs that will not be reimbursed. These changes include changes to the training plan or budget such as changes to the total number of trainees or the trainee participation mix, change of training vendor(s), changes to the total number of training hours, or changes to the planned outcomes or goals. Your program manager will provide guidance and determine if a contract modification is required to approve the requested change.  

We were just awarded a General Program grant. For preventative measures, we would like to start our grant period later. Is this possible? We aim to be flexible with our grantees’ needs within reason. If you have not yet started training, you may be able to postpone the beginning of the grant period. Please reach out to your program manager for guidance. 

Are we required to report layoffs to the Workforce Training Fund Program? We understand tough decisions may need to be made regarding your workforce. You must inform your program manager of any layoffs within your organization, in Massachusetts. 

Are there any resources available to support organizations is facing staffing reductions? Whether your company is expanding, downsizing, or looking to maintain its workforce, MassHire has a service for you. Below are some resources available to organizations facing staffing reductions:

Rapid Response Program: The Rapid Response team can offer alternatives to closing a facility and laying off employees. If layoffs are inevitable, measures can be taken to lessen the impact on the company and workforce.
WorkShare Program: If you are experiencing a temporary slowdown in your business, WorkShare can help you reduce your payroll costs and maintain valued workforce.
Unemployment Insurance For Workers: Unemployment Insurance provides Massachusetts workers with a temporary income, training, and support during periods of unemployment. 

Please reach out to Kristen Rayne (KRayne@commcorp.org) if we can offer any assistance as we navigate these waters together. And keep MassHire in mind for any needs you may have now or in the future. 

Bedford to Hold Community Meeting on Local Climate-Related Hazards on March 4th

On December 11, 2019 over 60 Town of Bedford staff, committee members, and community stakeholders attended a Community Resiliency Building (CRB) Workshop to evaluate the climate hazards facing the Town, discuss municipal strengths and vulnerabilities, and identify opportunities to improve the Town’s overall resiliency. The Town of Bedford now invites the general public to attend a March 4th community meeting to learn about these local climate-related hazards, and to provide input on the actions developed in response. The results of this meeting will be incorporated into the Town’s Hazard Mitigation Plan update, which is anticipated to be issued for further public review in April.

Date: March 4, 2020
Time: 7 PM
Location: Reed Room of Town Hall, Bedford MA

The CRB process is made possible by a grant from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, which leverages local knowledge to guide future climate resiliency planning and projects. Once the Town completes the CRB process, it will become designated as a Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness community. This designation will allow the Town to apply for future grant funding to implement the identified action items.

More information is available on the Town of Bedford DPW website. Contact Jeanette Rebecchi, Bedford MVP Municipal Project Manager, at jrebecchi@bedfordma.gov or (781) 275-7605 x 4274 with any questions or comments.

Burlington Town Meeting Okays High Rise Industrial Zoning Changes

Burlington – Patch – Burlington town meeting voters approved four zoning bylaw articles related to the high-rise industrial zoning district, at Monday’s meeting. One amendment changed the district’s dimensional rules, while the other three added parcels to the district, doubling the number of parcels covered by the rules. The articles were geared toward driving life sciences development in the town, according to the articles’ advocates. Read More…