CalSTRS Prepares its Employees to Shelter in Place

The retirement system has closed its member service locations and temporarily suspended its contact center to adhere to the state mandate.

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) has closed all seven of its member service locations as the pension plan transitions employees to shelter in place, as California orders all 40 million Californians to stay at home. It also shut its contact center to plan participants Thursday and Friday.   

The West Sacramento-based retirement system on Thursday closed all seven member service locations in Fresno, Glendale, Irvine, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Clara, and West Sacramento, some of which have mandated residents to shelter in place earlier this week. 

The educator fund, which has $250 billion in assets, had already started pulling back on member services last week, amid greater calls for remote work in light of the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, CalSTRS closed its Santa Clara office after the county mandated residents to stay home. On Monday, it canceled walk-in services and reduced phone hours. 

California is the third-most impacted state in the United States by the COVID-19 disease.

All of this is shaping up to a new normal for public employees, who are adjusting to the new dynamics of working from home. On Thursday, board members of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the other giant California pension, dialed into a meeting, which already had been canceled twice this week. 

CalSTRS has an emergency location in the event of a disaster, but the COVID-19 pandemic requires a technology-dependent response, such as increasing the use of teleconferencing.  

Earlier this month, CalSTRS CIO Chris Ailman went over quarantine procedures with an investment committee, noting that staffers at the pension system could switch to work from their homes “fairly effectively,” though he hoped “we don’t get to that.” 

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