National Capital FreeNet / Libertel de la capitale nationale

NCF COVID-19 Response Plan

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NCF COVID-19 Response Plan

Updated as of March 24th, 2020

NCF members,

Hope this finds you safe and well.

I am writing today about NCF’s response to COVID-19. NCF was founded to connect our community and we understand that access to the Internet, while always crucial, is especially important now as a connection to family, friends and work, as well as critical news and health information.

We are taking guidance on best practices from Ottawa Public Health. For more information about the health effects and details of COVID-19, please read the information available through Ottawa Public Health here: ottawapublichealth.ca/coronavirus

The latest updates to NCF’s COVID-19 response will be posted on this page.

At this time, we are taking the following steps to protect the health and safety of NCF members, staff, volunteers and our suppliers, while also ensuring a continued high quality of service.

1) Office cleaning

We are regularly wiping down the lobby and the rest of the office, have posted signs about hand washing and the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and are respecting Ottawa Public Health’s requirements for maintaining two metres space between people.

We have marked these distances in our office and, for when there may be multiple members waiting, in the hallway.

We now also have a limited supply of hand sanitizer for members and disposable gloves for staff and volunteers to use when handling member payments and modems.

2) Reduced office hours and increasing remote work

The office will be closed on Tuesday, March 24th and Wednesday, March 25th to facilitate some additional COVID-19 planning and protocols. During this time, the HelpDesk is working remotely 10am-7pm to handle your emails and phone calls. And as always, you can call 613-721-1773 ext. 0 or email support@ncf.ca at any time and the HelpDesk will get back in touch with you.

Starting Thursday, March 26th as an essential service, the NCF office will be open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays from 10am – 5pm. The HelpDesk is available on Wednesdays, but will be working remotely.

The HelpDesk will be fully staffed during this time, but many of our staff will be working remotely so we ask that members call or email their questions whenever possible and only come to the office for essential activities, including testing and replacing modems.

In terms of modems, we will be wiping them down before and after testing, and encourage you to do the same before you drop them off and after you pick them up.

3) Modem testing and loaner modems: drop-off and delivery

We are extending the period for all our loaner modems until May 15, 2020. If you have a loander modem that you wish to buy, please arrange payment with the HelpDesk.

If you need to drop-off your modem for testing or configuration, we have installed a lockbox for modem drop-offs that is available in the lobby stairwell of our offices at 1305 Richmond Road.

You can leave a modem there if you do not wish to come up to the office, or drop it off there on Wednesdays, when the office is closed. It will be checked and emptied regularly, Monday to Friday.

If you drop off a modem to be tested or reconfigured before 2pm, it should be ready for pick-up by 4pm the same day. We ask that members do not wait in the NCF office while their modems are being tested or reconfigured.

If you are not able to drop off your modem or can drop it off but not pick it up, during this time of social distancing we are waiving the shipping charges on existing modems and loaner modems. We will be using Canada Post next-day delivery service to send it back. We will send the tracking information, but cannot guarantee delivery timing.

If you wish to purchase a new modem at this time, you can pick it up during office hours or we can ship it to you for a reduced price of $5.

3) Payment options

We continue to accept cash, but also have a variety of other ways that NCF members can pay for our Internet services, including VISA and Mastercard credit and debit, e-transfers, cheques, money orders and pre-authorized debit. There are more details here: help.ncf.ca/Payments_and_Donations

You can also drop off cash or cheque payments in an envelope in the lockbox in the lobby stairwell of our offices at 1305 Richmond Road. It will be checked and emptied regularly, Monday to Friday.

4) Unlimited usage

I’m happy to say we have offered our members unlimited bandwidth since 2017, ensuring no one feels they need to limit their internet usage or risk being charged for overages.

5) Continued investment in our network

It has always been a priority for NCF to ensure there is no congestion on our network and as such, we have invested in bandwidth that supports members’ collective usage during peak periods. We are watching network usage daily and anticipate there may be increased usage or a shift in the times of day people are online. Please know we will increase our bandwidth as necessary.

6) Digital literacy work

We have a number of digital literacy workshops in the pipeline but have decided to postpone all workshops and other public events until the Fall.

We are also looking into ways to ensure that our past and future public education work can be shared online from now on, whether it’s access to a video stream of a workshop or handbooks and worksheets.

7) Adaptability

Because things are changing quickly, we are prepared to change with it as necessary. We will keep members up to date on the NCF StartPage, via our Facebook page and Twitter account, and on our COVID-19 response page, here: ncf.ca/covid19

Please take care and feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Thank you,
Shelley

Shelley Robinson
Executive Director
National Capital FreeNet
206-1305 Richmond Rd.
Ottawa, ON
K2B 7Y4
(613) 721-1773 ext. 1001