The Foreign Service Journal, May 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MAY 2020 57 AFSA NEWS AFSA NEWS THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF THE AMERICAN FOREIGN SERVICE ASSOCIATION Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the AFSA headquarters building is closed and all in-person events have been canceled, postponed or moved to an online forum until further notice. As the situation continues to evolve, please check for the most up-to-date information. May 1 AFSA Memorial Ceremony POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE May 15 Deadline: Nomination for AFSA Dissent and Performance Awards EXTENDED TO JUNE 1 May 20 12-2 p.m. AFSA Governing Board Meeting CALENDAR AFSA and COVID-19 In these extremely challeng- ing times, AFSA wants to convey to all our members how proud we are of the work you are doing at your posts and missions worldwide to cope with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. We will do all that we can to make certain our mem- bers, both domestic and overseas, get the best infor- mation on what to do in this trying time. You can visit afsa. org/coronavirus for govern- ment and media resources about COVID-19. The presence of Foreign Service members around the world increases knowledge of host-country conditions, enables greater coordination and stands as a symbol of America’s commitment to global engagement. AFSA leadership has met with State MED and bureau front offices to get a better read on plans for addressing disruptions caused by the virus and for disseminating information on a timely basis. AFSA raised concerns from our members on a number of issues, ranging from tripwires for evacuation and telework rules to help for evacuees in finding suitable work and assurance that the latest information and best practices are available. AFSA continues to urge State man- agement to provide guidance and up-to-date information to employees. AFSA initiated a telework strategy for staff starting March 16, with laptops and voice communication forwarding capability, which ensures that those who need to contact AFSA staff can do so with no break in service. You can always reach us at or check to contact each staff member directly. Work-Life Balance We are all facing the con- sequences of the outbreak of the new coronavirus. Many posts are on autho- rized or ordered departure. Task forces have been stood up across the government, and our colleagues at our respective agencies are working hard to balance achievement of mission with the safety and security of our staff. In the District of Colum- bia, Maryland and Virginia region and much of the coun- try, as well as at most posts, schools are closed for the rest of the school year. Our members have been strug- gling to balance professional obligations with personal needs to care for children, elderly loved ones and them- selves while also engaging in their communities to help those in need. AFSA has called on the leadership of the foreign affairs agencies to fully support their staff at this unprecedented time and to clearly and unambiguously require all supervisors to provide members of the U.S. Foreign Service with the administrative leave neces- sary to fulfill their personal needs and professional duties. The group Balancing Act, with support from AFSA and others, submitted a letter requesting adjust- ments to leave eligibility due to the burden of manag- ing full-time work hours in conjunction with childcare. On April 2, the State Depart- ment authorized 20 hours of admin leave per pay period, retroactive from February 16, for childcare, elder depen- dent care and local shelter- in-place needed as a result of the pandemic. Please reach out to CENTERSFORDISEASECONTROLANDPREVENTION AFSA and let us know your concerns and suggestions. We will take them to the leadership of our agencies. Your service matters, to our country and to the world. If you cannot get the attention of senior leaders on an urgent question or issue, contact AFSA President Eric Rubin or the appropriate AFSA agency vice presidents, and we will add our voices. For those of you who have less critical questions that you can’t get answered, contact AFSA Labor Manage- ment staff at We will run interference. That is why we are here. n