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City Manager Erik Walsh announces plan to re-open City services, focused on health and safety of employees and residents

Published on Thursday, May 28, 2020

City Manager Erik Walsh announces plan to re-open City services, focused on health and safety of employees and residents

Libraries will re-open with limited services including contact-free pick-up and access to digital resources beginning June 16

For members of the media, please contact:
Laura Mayes, City of San Antonio (210) 207-1337
Michelle Vigil, City of San Antonio (210) 207-8172

For questions from the general public, please contact:
COVID-19 Hotline (210) 207-5779

SAN ANTONIO (May 28, 2020) — Today, City Manager Erik Walsh briefed the Mayor and City Council on the phased approach to re-opening City services. The strategic four phase plan prioritizes the health and safety of City employees, residents, visitors and those who do business with the City by implementing protocols that aim to reduce and minimize the spread of COVID-19. The plan is guided by the methodology and proposed progress indicators established by the COVID-19 Health Transition Team.
“As one of the largest employers in San Antonio, we are proud to set the example of carefully re-opening services with guidance from our public health officials. The health and safety of my City teammates and our customers and visitors is my top priority,” said City Manager Erik Walsh. “Over the next few months we will continue to have staff working remotely as we redesign our work environment to minimize the spread of COVID-19. The return to work plan will drive productivity, cross-departmental collaboration and customer service, while implementing social distancing protocols, remote work and flexible schedules.”
The plan’s three key priorities are:

  1. Protect the People: create and implement daily processes and practices to minimize the transmission of the virus between employees, visitors, residents and contractors.
  2. Redesign the Work Environment: minimize the entry and potential transmission of the virus in the places that COSA employees work.
  3. Drive Operational Productivity: continually improve performance, collaboration, and customer service while social distancing and remote working.

Decisions to re-open any City functions or services is based on an assessment of public demand, ability to comply with any current or new Federal, State or local orders, financial viability and the safety measures to protect both the public’s and employee’s safety.
Phase One – Current State (March 13 – May 30)
Phase one has included having approximately 2,304 civilian employees working remotely and 538 employees redeployed to alternate work assignments. This phase also included a reduction in public-facing City services and closures of several departmental functions. These services will remain closed through the end of Phase One.

  • On-site screening, including temperature scans at all City facilities
  • Maintaining employees on a remote work schedule where possible
  • Assessment of public-facing services for transition to less face-to-face interaction
  • Virtual meetings in the workplace to limit face-to-face interaction
  • Remote work policies and adopt flexible sick leave policies so that employees could stay home when sick or if known exposure to COVID-19 has occurred 
  • Implementation of stringent cleaning and hand-washing protocols
  • Education about proper use and storage of face coverings and other personal protective equipment
  • Placement of visible signage about preventing the spread of COVID-19

Phase Two – Projected Start June 15
Phase two includes limited or partial re-opening of select functions and public-facing services that were closed during Phase one; however, it does not introduce broad re-opening of City-owned facilities. This phase focuses on contact-free services to minimize physical contact. City libraries will resume limited operations as detailed below.
Phase two includes contact-free pickup of reserved library materials at 29 library locations with limited hours; in addition, nine library branches will offer access to public computers. Time limits to use public computers will apply to allow access to other users and to allow for sanitization after each use. Book drops at all library locations will be reopened; expanded phone, chat, and online reference; increased outside Wi-Fi availability through hotspot vehicles; expanded e-programming and online assistance available at
“The Library team is looking forward to re-opening library services for the community. The public’s patience is respectfully requested as we continue to adapt our operations in a COVID-19 environment to keep our employees and residents healthy and safe, while also bringing equitable access to the Internet, digital materials and computers to the neighborhoods that need it most,” said Ramiro Salazar, Director of the San Antonio Public Library System. 
Nine library branches including Westfall, Carver, Schaefer, Mission, Pan American, Cortez, Johnston, Bazan and Collins Garden library branches will offer computer access as well as pick-up services. These branches are located in Council Districts 1 – 5 and were selected to help bridge the digital divide in areas that have less access to computers and Internet connection.

  • Contact-free pickup will be available at the following locations Tuesday, 12 p.m. – 7 p.m. & Wednesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.: Brook Hollow, Central, Cody, Encino, Forest Hills, Great Northwest, Guerra, Igo, Landa, Las Palmas, Maverick, McCreless, Memorial, Parman, Potranco, Pruitt, San Pedro, Semmes, Thousand Oaks and Tobin 
  • Contact-free pickup will be available at the following locations, Tuesday, 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. and Wednesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.: Bazan, Carver, Collins Garden, Cortez, Johnston, Mission, Pan American, Schaefer and Westfall 
  • Public computers will be available at the following locations, Tuesday, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. & Wednesday – Saturday, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.: Bazan, Carver, Collins Garden, Cortez, Johnston, Mission, Pan American, Schaefer and Westfall 

Additional Limited Opening of Key Departments/Functions: (facilities up to 25% occupancy)

  • Municipal Courts: Provide court users with contact free walk-up kiosks located outside the courthouse to resolve cases with court staff and/or judges to avoid physical and face-to-face contact; the Courthouse will not re-open facilities to the public during this period; Jury and non-jury trial settings not resolved remotely by a teleconferencing pretrial conference will be reset for a date after September 1, 2020; Attorney access will be provided
  • Parks: Provide Grab and Go food program June 1; re-open select Youth Community Centers (8 Summer Camp Sites) beginning June 15
  • City Clerk: Vital Records Office; will partially re-open and will continue appointment and walk-up services
  • NHSD: Partially re-open for Emergency Housing Assistance Program assistance by appointment only.


  •  Limited re-opening of select closed functions and public-facing services.
  • Migration of most face to face interactions to virtual or telephone services
  • Delivery of products through curbside pick-up, queuing systems and contactless delivery
  • Maintain employees, not impacted by phase two re-openings in remote work status
  • Flexible meeting, travel and work schedule options
  • Clean desk policies with nonessential items stored in cabinets and drawers, rather than on the desk, to ensure proper cleaning and sanitation
  • Continue to focus on virtual meetings in the workplace to limit face-to-face interaction
  • Continue to emphasize stringent cleaning and hand washing protocols
  • Incorporate engineering controls such as physical barriers and signage where possible
  • Increase the physical space between employees and customers (e.g., drive through, partitions, contactless delivery)
  • Ensure all desks are spaced six feet apart; create social distancing behaviors by design
  • Sequence people into elevators and create “Safe Zone” demarcation spots to stand in
  • Place signs instructing employees on appropriate directions when walking in the building
  • Place signage in lobbies to remind customers to maintain social distancing protocols 
  • Eliminate shared equipment such as desks, keyboards and phones

Phase Three – Projected Start Date to be Determined based on Phase Two
Phase three continues the processes and strategies of the previous phases, as well as additional re-opening of select closed functions and public facing services not re-opened under Phase two.
Indicators for moving to Phase three will include: a stable decrease of new COVID-19 cases; appropriate support for medically at-risk populations; and, the ability to effectively monitor, test, trace, and isolate new cases.
Phase three additional re-opening of key departments/functions: (facilities up to 50% occupancy)

  • Libraries: Managed access and limited hours (40 hours/week) at all 30 locations; in and out service; metered circulation and reference; one-way traffic for browsing collections; managed access to public computers with metered usage; first floor access at Central Library only; partial re-opening with partners (LaunchSA, Book Cellar, etc.)
  • Municipal Courts: Partial re-opening with modified services for limited number of in-person general appearance hearings; contact free walk-up kiosks located outside the courthouse to resolve cases with court staff and/or judge and avoid physical and face-to-face contact and reduce foot traffic; Jury and non-jury trial settings not resolved remotely by a teleconferencing pretrial conference will be reset for a date after September 1, 2020; Attorney access will be provided
  • Parks: Open 11 outdoor pools and five splashpad locations beginning July 3; Re-open park amenities such as basketball courts; playgrounds; fitness equipment; skate plazas; San Antonio Natatorium; Darner fitness center and reservation lobby located at Parks Headquarters
  • DHS: Cafécollege partial re-opening, NXT LVL youth re-engagement center re-open for high-need cases and by appointment only, financial empowerment programs by appointment only; City operated VITA sites; year-round Tax Clinic open by appointment only; Multi-Service Community Centers (Frank Garrett & Claude Black); facility fully open to support multiple programs housed in the facility; Early Head Start (Childcare Centers may choose to open as people return to work); Multi-Service Community Centers (Frank Garrett & Claude Black); may open in coordination with Departments and Agencies also housed in the facility - AVANCE San Antonio
  • NHSD: Partially re-open for housing policy and housing production teams
  • CSEF: Re-Open Facilities to Public with minimal events/attendance          

Additional re-opening of key public-facing services:

  • CCDO: Parking Permit Desk
  • City Clerk: Vital Records Office; partially re-open with increased capacity
  • DSD and OHP: One-Stop; partially re-open with increased capacity, open public counter with limited hours for the public; small group appointments        
  • Finance: Check Disbursements (accounts payable, payroll, time and attendance); partially re-open
  • NHSD: Utility Assistance and Risk Mitigation Fund Desk; staff will re-open main lobby
  • Finance: Public bid openings with potential web applications
  • GPA: Public Access Studio; Open Records Request Desk re-open (open records can still be requested online)
  • Hotlines: Operationalize new Health, EPI, Homeless, Utility and Fair Housing hotlines; reduce tactical hotlines; integrate customer experience - 311 call centers


  • Additional re-openings of select closed functions and public facing services
  •  Employees begin to return to from remote work arrangements to support newly opened functions or services where workplace design allows for safety and social distancing
  • Flexible and alternate work environments for City facilities with remote working opportunities
  • Continue to implement flexible meeting, travel, and work schedule options
  • Continue integrating virtual meetings in the workplace to limit face-to-face interaction
  • Continue to implement and improve stringent cleaning and hand washing protocols
  • Monitor and update business travel and quarantine protocols
  • Implement flexible work hours and staggered schedules to lessen occupancy in buildings
  • Invest in technology to connect more effectively with remote workers
  • Create specialized spaces in the office since more people will be remote working regularly
  • Create office design for consolidating joint services for temporary public facing services

Phase Four – Projected Start Date based on Phase Three
Phase four represents the City’s rebuilt operations and service delivery models in the post-pandemic climate.  In this phase all previously closed functions and services are reopened under new protocols and employees are operating under new conditions.

  • All permanent remote work functions and positions are identified and operationalized
  • Alternative work schedules and remote work possibilities are implemented
  • Modifications to all public facing services are implemented with new service delivery
  • All previously closed functions are reopened under new business models
  • Significant service transformation is underway and funded for fiscal year 2021

Updates regarding City services are shared on the City’s website at and through its social media channels. The public can subscribe to text alerts from the City by texting COSAGOV to 55000.



  1. Download the Ready South Texas app, available in the iTunes and Google Play stores
  2. Text COSAGOV to 55000 to receive SMS text message updates
  3. Follow @COSAGOV on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  4. Bookmark

Public service announcements on social distancing, prevention and testing are available here.

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Author: Melanie Morales (GPA)

Categories: City News, Health, COVID



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