February 5: Coronavirus Update from the CEO

February 5th, 2021

Dear Members of The Arc Family:

The progress in COVID response that began last month continues as we move into February, 2021 and that progress has been notably experienced at The Arc of Essex County. The expanded and clarified 1A vaccine eligibility category for our community has greatly improved access and the state’s partnership with Walmart and Walgreens has been very successful for our Arc Essex family. All but 12 of the 136 individuals in our residential services have received the first vaccine dose through the Walmart Pod Program. Residents were scheduled at either the Walmart in Boonton, or the Walmart in Garfield and, with great support from all involved,124 vaccines were distributed! The Walgreens program required The Arc of Essex to organize and operate a 1- day “clinic” for our consumers, staff, volunteers, and family caregivers. Our West Caldwell day program facility was turned into a vaccine clinic where three teams of pharmacists and technicians distributed 168 vaccines. The Arc Essex staff that organized the event and manned the operation that day were stellar! The DDD/DHS Quest COVID testing program has also been in use at The Arc of Essex County as we make every effort to stay on top of any COVID activity in order to keep our residents and staff safe and healthy.

We continue to work hard to provide updated and relevant communication about resources and opportunities for staff, consumers, and families. Information changes almost daily, but we remain committed to keep up with the most recent guidance from all partners and implement the most prudent strategies to mitigate risk and protect health and safety for all. Although there are no changes to the State’s COVID restriction guidelines for DDD services, we are more than ready to pivot back to additional in-person services when they are relaxed. For now, we are focusing on managing vaccine distribution for staff and consumers, and activities that keep everyone connected and engaged.

The health, safety, and happiness of our service participants, their families, and our staff are of the utmost importance. We can focus on these efforts thanks to the hard work and dedication of the entire Arc Essex family. We remain steadfast in our commitment to all opportunities that support our Arc family, for today and for the future.

Thank you, all.  Stay safe and be well.

Linda's Signature.jpg

Linda C. Lucas
Chief Executive Officer


  • Adult Day Programs remain closed as per DDD; no opening date is available.
  • Community Based Supports and HAP continue with in-person services supporting a few individuals (CBS) and families (HAP) to engage in community activities.
  • Camp Hope general registration for summer 2021 will open on February 2/15/2021.
  • DHS/DDD COVID testing program for residential consumers and staff to end 2/26/2021.
  • 1A category for COVID vaccine including group home residents and staff, expanded.
  • DDD/DHS and the Department of Health partnered with Walmart to distribute vaccines to group home residents. All but 12 individuals in our residential services have received the first dose of the vaccine through this program; all second doses scheduled.
  • Arc Essex, in partnership with Walgreens, organized a “clinic” on 1/27/21 and was able to provide 168 vaccines to eligible participants.

Current Status of Programs and Services:

  • Shapiro Center for Early Intervention: In-person and telehealth services continue
  • Stepping Stones School: In-person classes continue; 100% remote option continues
  • Stepping Stones Early Intervention: Virtual sessions continue into spring
  • Children Group Respite and Recreation Programs: In-person activities authorized to resume with restrictions; plans in development
  • Adult Day Programs: Closed; no opening date available; virtual activities continue
  • Community Based Supports and Individual Respite: Limited options available
  • Virtual activities calendars continue to increase and expand for at-home and residential home consumers on www.arcessex.org; virtual billing continues