June 5: Coronavirus Update from the CEO

June 5th, 2020

Dear Members of The Arc Family:

Although the Governor has extended the statewide health emergency for another 30 days, announcements for certain re-openings have recently begun. Happily, The Arc of Essex County has started the planning for programs and services to re-open. This complex strategic plan must work in sync with NJ’s plan and absolutely must address the inherent health and safety guidelines and protocols. We continue to implement our comprehensive COVID-19 service and operations response and prevention plan, even as we work on strategies for re-opening.


  • A 2nd Board sponsored Pizza dinner for residential services was held Friday, June 5
  • Stepping Stones School Car Parade graduation & year-end ceremony is scheduled for June 16
  • Plans for a modified season for Camp Hope are in the works
  • Testing availability for consumers and staff greatly increased; our COVID positive numbers greatly decreased

Current Closures:

  • Shapiro Center for Early Intervention: Suspended; modified teleservices began 4/1
  • Stepping Stones School: In-school canceled through school year; remote learning continued
  • Stepping Stones Early Intervention: Began virtual session, 5/5
  • 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

Ongoing Services:

  • 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: No outside visitors; 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.
  • Increased COVID testing available and encouraged for staff and group home residents

The light appears to be at the end of the tunnel – albeit at the far end of the tunnel. But, here at The Arc of Essex County – we see that light and we are focusing on it. As the Governor announces re-opening plans, The Arc has embraced the opportunity to start re-opening plans of our own. We could not even consider beginning re-opening plans if it were not for the entire Arc family that have stayed positive, strong and together. Thank you to everyone who has helped The Arc of Essex County and its family and friends get to this point. You all continue to amaze me.

Stay safe and be well.

Linda's Signature.jpg

Linda C. Lucas
Chief Executive Officer