MAPS Facility & Safety News

April 2020

Ergonomic and Safety Tips When Working from Home

By Stacie Goodrich, M.A., OTR/L, CDMS, QRC and SFM Insurance

Whether you work from home occasionally or exclusively, it’s worth taking a little time to set up your space in a way that allows you to be safe working from home and have a comfortable work set-up.

Follow these guidelines to avoid pain and strain while working from home.

Set up desk space to support neutral posture

Do your best to find a chair that supports your back, and positions you with at least a 90-degree angle at your hips. If available, use a table or desk surface that allows you to maintain a 90-degree angle at your elbows. Refer to our Ergonomic Workstation Education handout for the ideal positioning.

Ergonomic recommendations for laptops

The ergonomic challenge with laptops is that because the screen and keyboard are attached, using a laptop for a long time requires you to make a trade off between using a neutral head/neck posture and hand/wrist posture. Using a separate keyboard, mouse and monitor can help combat this.

Follow these recommendations when using a laptop to avoid pain and strain:

  • Find a comfortable chair that supports your back
  • Monitor your hand/wrist posture and height (see the Ergonomic Workstation Education handout for proper positioning)
  • Angle the laptop screen allowing for optimal viewing with your neck in as neutral alignment as possible
  • Use a separate keyboard, mouse and monitor, if available
  • Plan for frequent positional changes and postural breaks to allow for muscle recovery

Avoid neck strain when using your phone

If you use your phone often when working from home, use a headset or the speaker phone option to prevent neck strain. Avoid cradling a headset between your shoulder and head.

Take breaks often to move and stretch

Take frequent breaks to change up your posture and stretch throughout the workday. This is key to working comfortably for long periods of time.

Check out the videos on our Get Up & Move page to learn simple stretches that you can do during quick breaks throughout the workday.

Incorporate exercise throughout your workday by taking a few 10-minute walks. Remember that exercise is cumulative, so three 10-minute walks are just as beneficial as one 30-minute walk.

Check your home office environment for hazards

When working in an office, you likely have others examining the space for safety hazards, but when working from home, that is most likely up to you.

Check your surrounding environment for safety hazards:

  • Ensure the area surrounding your home work space is free from clutter and tripping hazards
  • Evaluate your work space for adequate lighting and position screens/monitors to minimize glare
  • Ensure your environment is free of excessive noise and private enough for you to work securely

Working from home should not be any less safe or comfortable than being in an office or school environment. Thinking through these considerations can help you stay free of pains and strains after a day at the home office.

Severe Weather 101 - Step into the Wild World of Weather


APRIL 13-17, 2020


1:45 PM . . . . . THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE will activate the NAWAS system (National Warning System) for a simulated tornado warning, broadcasting a live simulated tornado warning message over the NOAA weather radio system. All communities participating in the test in Minnesota will activate their outdoor warning sirens.


2:00 PM . . . . . An “end of test message” will be sent over the NOAA weather wire and NOAA weather radio systems. Outdoor warning sirens DO NOT sound again to signal an “all-clear”.

6:45 PM . . . . . THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE will issue another simulated tornado warning. NOAA weather radios will activate with the real code. Please make the necessary communications to give your evening building occupants and supervisors an opportunity to participate. Tornadoes happen mostly between 3:00 PM and 8:00 PM, so it is important for 2ND shift staff to practice and participate in the drill.

7:00 PM . . . . . End of Test . . . Sirens DO NOT sound.



While you may be able to spot some tornadoes from a good distance, others may be wrapped in heavy rain and barely visible at all. Debris, sand and dark skies can also hinder visibility. A loud roar is a good indicator because tornadoes give off a continuous rumble, similar to a train sound. Debris will also make loud noises as it hits objects.


WATCH: Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. The weather ingredients are right for a tornado. Listen for any changes and updates to the weather conditions. Having a portable radio is beneficial. Consider back-up plans for outside activities.

WARNING: A tornado has been spotted in your area. Take shelter now!

Protecting Yourself and Your Family: COVID-19

What you can do to prepare, if you or a family member gets ill, or if your community experiences spread of COVID-19.

Start now:

  • Monitor local information about COVID-19 in your community.
  • Practice personal protective measures (e.g., keep social distance when in public and wash hands frequently, especially when in public spaces).
  • Put household plan into action.
  • People who are 65 and older, or people of any age who have underlying medical conditions should stay at home and avoid gatherings or other situations of potential exposures, including travel.

Continue these activities:

  • Know where to find local information on COVID-19 and local trends of COVID-19 cases.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and what to do if symptomatic:
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Call your health care provider’s office before you go in.
    • Limit movement in the community.
    • Limit visitors.
  • Know what additional measures people at high risk and who are vulnerable should take.
  • Implement personal protective measures (e.g., stay home when sick, hand-washing, respiratory etiquette, clean frequently touched surfaces daily).
  • Create a household plan of action in case of illness in the household or disruption of daily activities due to COVID-19 in the community.
    • Consider getting a two-week supply of prescription and over the counter medications, food and other essentials to keep at home. Know how to get food delivered if possible.
    • Establish ways to communicate with others (e.g., family, friends, co-workers).
    • Establish plans to telework, what to do about child care needs, and how to adapt to cancellation of events.
  • Know about emergency operations plans for schools/workplaces of household members.

Take the same precautions recommended for avoiding colds and flu:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough.
10 Things You Can Do to Manage COVID-19 at Home

NEW MAPS Employee COVID-19 Screening Questions

Because we care about you and our MAPS families, before entering any MAPS facility we ask that you review the following screening questions to help determine if you should enter the building and to keep you and those working within our buildings safe and health.

Ask yourself if you have ANY of the following symptoms:
▪ TEMPERATURE/FEVER of 100.4 F or above. YES / NO



If ALL the ABOVE are NO, you can now enter the school space. You must proceed to wash your hands before having any contact with any staff or students.

If ANY of the ABOVE are YES, YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED to enter the building and will be asked to return home. If you become sick during the day, find a space away from other students and staff to wait to be picked up or notify the building administrator of your illness and leave the building. MAPS encourages you to contact your provider for further guidance in this situation.

For more information, visit Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19):(, or call the COVID-19 hotline at 651-201- 3920 or 1-800-657-3903.

Minnesota Department of Health, 2020


MAPS has instituted new "Feeling Sick" guidelines to help parents and staff determine the length of time they need to self-quarantine and slow the spread of COVID-19 among our community. We ask that you follow these guidelines to help protect MAPS students, staff and families.

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