At the beginning of July, Teachers' Retirement System staff will begin a careful transition back to our offices in Springfield and Lisle.
After 15 weeks of working at home and fulfilling the TRS mission from dining room tables and spare bedrooms, staff will follow approved safety guidelines and social distancing as they return to a traditional workplace setting. This will be a staggered transition. For the foreseeable future, staff will be divided into two groups and alternate during the week between the office and their homes.
TRS is starting this transition because Illinois is moving to Phase 4 of Gov. JB Pritzker's "Restore Illinois" plan to guide the state's post-coronavirus recovery.
For TRS members and their families, this back-to-the-office transition will not change the current level of service that the System provides:
- For now, TRS offices will remain closed to visitors, so all appointments with the System's retirement counselors will continue to be held over the telephone. No date has been set yet for the resumption of in-person counseling sessions. TRS appreciates the way members have adjusted to this "new normal" during the COVID-19 lockdown. Last week alone, counselors participated in 138 teleconferences with members, or an average of 27 meetings each day.
- Members contacting the TRS Call Center will continue to have their questions answered quickly. Last week, TRS staff fielded 2,560 calls and 633 emails from their homes. On average, members waited only 21 seconds before speaking with a member services representative.
- All TRS beneficiaries will continue to be paid in full and on time. Since April, staff have administered the benefit "payroll" from their homes without a problem. We expect no disruption in payments as the office is re-opened.
In this transition back to our offices, TRS is requiring staff to follow a number of safety steps that all of us have become used to during Illinois' response to the coronavirus pandemic.
- All staff will wear masks in hallways and common areas.
- Staff who are not feeling well or who have a temperature of more than 100.4 degrees will have to stay home.
- TRS will continue to urge that all staff meetings be held electronically and that social distancing be practiced during meetings that must be held face-to-face.
- All common areas and "high-touch surfaces" will be sanitized several times each day and deep cleaned after business hours.
- Plexiglass barriers will be installed in places where regular face-to-face contact is expected, such as the receptionist's desk.
- All business travel is suspended until at least January 1, 2021.
The safety procedures TRS is following not only will protect the health of the System's staff but will help us prepare for a time when we are able to open our offices safely to members and their families.