FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — As Forsyth County courtrooms prepare to ramp up with additional cases this month, judicial staff are seeking help in keeping the facilities safe for the influx of people expected.
At its bi-monthly work session May 26, county commissioners heard from Court Administrator Robin Rooks, who reported that when the judicial emergency ends June 12, courts are expecting to resume numerous proceedings delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The court compels citizens to the courthouse for judicial proceedings,” Rooks said. “Very few people appear on their own voluntarily during this pandemic.”
Right now, Rooks said, the courts are using supplemental cleaning to come in between the court proceedings now occurring. The court does not have any of the day cleaners it has had in the past.
“Even if we did have some of the day cleaners back, the nature of this pandemic, I still think requires a higher standard of cleaning,” Rooks said. “What we’re seeing with other courthouses around Georgia is that they’re putting out bids for extra janitorial services.”
Rooks said when the court system ramps up with traffic cases, civil cases and divorce proceedings, it should expect to see more people in the courthouse, including those with other communicable diseases aside from COVID-19. Recently in court, she said, they had a case of scabies that required cleaners to use additional disinfectant.
“Just the nature of the courthouse, the people that we serve, I think it’s necessary during this pandemic to have increased janitorial services,” Rooks said.
County Manager Eric Johnson said the County Administration Building opened May 26 with limited staff, all screened before reporting to work. County offices are preparing to allow visitors with business at the offices, but those visits will be metered by appointment.
In most cases, Johnson said, departments can be responsible for maintaining sanitary conditions in their offices. Meeting rooms, which are now limited to a fraction of capacity, should be kept sanitized between meetings.
Courts and voter registration are a little different, he said.
“We’ve started to reengage some of our offices, but I know the courts have been active throughout this and the same thing at voter registration,” he said. “They’ve been working at that facility, and of course, they’re at an even heightened level of activity now.”
Best estimates now call for a full-time service at roughly $1,000 a week for the courts, but that may fluctuate as needs increase. Employees in the Elections Office have been wiping down the equipment themselves, Johnson said, but they may need some help with restrooms and other areas as crowds increase.
Johnson also said the expenses incurred through the additional janitorial service likely will qualify for reimbursement, because these are essential services, and the expense is COVID-19- related.
Parks Director Jim Pryor said parks staff have been in charge of ensuring public restrooms at park facilities are cleaned and sanitized twice daily.