May 7: Coronavirus Update from the CEO

May 7th, 2021

Dear Members of The Arc Family:

What a difference a month makes! May has brought new hope as restrictions relax and communities and businesses across the State embrace opportunities to re-open. The relaxation of restrictions and opportunities to re-open have positively impacted services to the IDD community, including The Arc of Essex County. We are very excited to begin opening adult day centers as well as respite and recreation services for children and adults. Camp registration is going strong with some weeks at maximum enrollment. The use of Camp Hope for respite and recreation activities for children and adults is an added bonus, especially with opening the Splash Pad as allowed this year.

Many of our participants and staff have been vaccinated as eligibility opened and securing an appointment became easier. If you are having difficulty securing a vaccine for your family member with IDD, we may be able to help, so please let us know.

The increase in vaccination has also proven to be a positive influence on changes to state COVID policies and procedures for our IDD community. DDD further adjusted the day program opening guidance making it much easier to re-open services, albeit with COVID protocols such as limited capacity, social distancing, masking, and screening. All current COVID guidance in use from DDD, DCF, and DOE has been and will continue to be developed in partnership with the NJ Department of Health which uses updated recommendations from the CDC. Guidance from all of these sources can change very quickly, but please be assured that The Arc of Essex County is dialed-in with the ability to pivot, adjust, or move very quickly to make accommodations as changes occur.

Although re-opening services has begun, the Arc Essex plan includes a slow, limited and deliberate opening so we can be sure to get it right. We don’t want to close our services again! We are hopeful that as state COVID restrictions further relax, our pace and volume of opening will increase which will then have greater impact on our Arc family. Rest assured as quickly as changes happen, you will be provided with timely and relevant information about services, resources and opportunities for staff, consumers, and families.

The Arc remains focused on staying on top of the most recent guidance from all state and federal partners so as to implement the best strategies, provide and expand needed services, all while mitigating risk and protecting health and safety for all. The health, safety, and happiness of our community are the most important focus of The Arc of Essex County. Our efforts to implement this focus at a high level can be attributed to the hard work and dedication of our staff, supporters, and the entire Arc Essex family. We are thankful and appreciative for the hearts, minds, and hands of all involved as we strive to honor our commitment to all opportunities that support our Arc family, now and in the future.

Thank you, all.  Stay safe and be well.

Linda's Signature.jpg

Linda C. Lucas
Chief Executive Officer


  • Congregate adult day programs to begin opening May 10 with limited locations and capacity.
  • Congregate respite and recreations programs and activities to begin in June.
  • Community Based Supports and HAP continue and expand with in-person services supporting individuals (CBS) and families (HAP) to engage in community activities.
  • Camp Hope general registration for summer 2021 continues with very limited week availability; ESY at Camp Hope option available; Splash Pad opening!

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 re-open with restrictions; plans to resume in June
  • Arc Essex congregate adult day programs: Re-opening with limited capacity beginning May 10.
  • Community Based Supports and Individual Respite: Limited but expanding options available.
  • Virtual activities calendars will continue for at-home and residential home consumers on