NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Newport News Shipbuilding is transitioning back to a 3 shift schedule as it evolves to deal with the coroanvirus pandemic.
The shipyard has seen COVID-19 cases surge there recently, with 30 new cases reported on Monday alone. NNS President Jennifer Boykin says she knows shutting down the yard would be the only way to fully stop the virus from spreading, but “with that comes unemployment for 25,000 shipbuilders, a delay in Navy ship production, and the potential loss of future work.”
She says she’s heard feedback from many workers and local union President Charles Spivey, and decided to move back to the 3 shift schedule. The shipyard moved to 2 shifts back in April in an effort to improve social distancing, but saw many cases linked to the 1st shift.
The change is set to take place at 10 p.m. on August 16, with supervisors expected to notify all employees by August 3 of shift assignments.
Here’s the new schedule:
• 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (first shift)
• 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. (second shift)
• 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. (third shift)
While more balanced, first shift will have slightly more than half of the workforce, Boykin said. “The shift schedule is designed to provide one-hour gaps on both sides of first shift for cleaning and to spread the workforce during shift change. We will continue to follow CDC guidelines of social distancing, wearing a mask, and continual cleaning across all three shifts. Thank you for your continued flexibility during this difficult time. We will make it through this time together, stronger.”
Boykin said Monday that lunch break areas are one of the ongoing assessments as they study options to enable better social distancing during that time period.
“Based on our contact interviews with individuals who are confirmed to have COVID-19, we are seeing exposure from lunchtime interactions growing as a result of the challenges with social distancing.”
Boykin says operations will continue to evolve, and the shipyard will have to remain vigilant until a vaccine. For more details on the change, click here.
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