June 26: Coronavirus Update from the CEO
June 26th, 2020
Dear Members of The Arc Family:
As the state of NJ moves quickly through re-opening phases, The Arc of Essex County continues the planning for programs and services to re-open as we wait for guidelines and dates from state authorities. This complex strategic plan must work in lockstep with NJ’s plan, especially with the guidelines issued by the Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities. Every plan absolutely must address the health and safety guidelines and protocols that are in development to mitigate and manage the inherent risk this pandemic presents as we all try to get back to “normal”. The Arc of Essex County continues to implement our comprehensive COVID-19 service and operations response and prevention plan, even as we work on these many strategies for re-opening.
- Stepping Stones School Car Parade graduation & year-end ceremony was held on June 16
- Outdoor family visits began on Father’s Day at the Group Homes
- Camp Hope will open on July 13 for children AND adults
- Early Intervention planning for center-based in-person service
- Shapiro Center for Early Intervention: Suspended; modified teleservices continuing
- Stepping Stones School: Extended school year session begins remotely on 7/6
- Stepping Stones Early Intervention: Virtual sessions continue through summer
- Children and Adult Group Respite and Recreation Programs: In-person activities suspended for consumers until DDD/DCF authorize return; virtual activities initiated
- Adult Day Programs: In -person programs suspended until DDD authorizes return: virtual activities initiated
- Deployment of iPhones to consumers and programs for remote monitoring (Facetime)
- Increased use of telemedicine services with Station MD, the DDC and other medical providers
- Residential Services: Family outside visits; staff only engaged in essential community activities
- Administrative Support: The main office is open with limited hours, staggered and remote staffing; only essential visitors
- Increased screening, including infrared temperature checks, for everyone entering residences
- Program Administration: Staff deployed to Arc locations to support residential services
- Support staff shopping teams continue to pick up and deliver items including groceries to group homes as needed.
- Containment scheduling implemented which assigns staff to work in specific programs only in order to minimize the risk of exposure and spread of COVID-19
- Masks distributed to all locations for staff to utilize during shifts in program and when engaged in essential community activities
- Increased use of video and audio teleservices to assist with social isolation, engagement with families, and other Stay-At-Home challenges.
- Additional supplies of N95 and KN95 masks and isolation gowns have been secured and deployed including donated PPE from United Way and DDD
- Increased and expanded COVID-19 stipends for staff working residential shifts
- Expanded opportunities to spread awareness and appreciation of our DSP’s (Jersey 4 Jersey, local, Café Villa pizza lunch, state news articles, and lawn signs throughout Essex County)
- Virtual Clubs, events, and activities were rolled out to group home and at-home consumers, and virtual activities calendars continue to increase and expand on www.arcessex.org.
- Testing availability for consumers and staff greatly increased; our COVID positive numbers greatly decreased
The shining sun and warm weather has bolstered everyone’s spirits and our world seems just a little more hopeful. At The Arc of Essex County, we are embracing this feeling and putting it to good use as we move forward with our planning for the re-opening of certain programs and services and the loosening of restrictions in many others. The Arc of Essex County family has collectively harnessed the brightness of the sun, the warmth of the weather, and the power of hope to get us this far. Hold on to it all as we continue to move forward, step by step. Thank you to everyone; you are all amazing.
Stay safe and be well.
Linda C. Lucas
Chief Executive Officer