Work Training and Employment Support Day Program Reopening and COVID-19 Systems
Day Programs across Massachusetts have received the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) guidelines to reopen. While we would like nothing more than to provide all of our program participants the opportunity to return during the initial phase of reopening, it is just not possible. We all know from our experience living through this pandemic, and based on the CDC’s recommendations, it is not in the best interest of our program participant’s or staff’s health and safety to gather in large groups. If someone cannot attend onsite services, we are now offering home visits, Community-Based Day Service without Walls, and will continue to provide an array of virtual activities and classes. An updated schedule has been posted on our website . Please let us know if you need assistance with remote access or have equipment needs.
Whether a program participant is returning in the initial reopening phase, or at a later time, it is important to share the safeguards developed for the Northeast Arc’s Day Service reopening plan. Please be assured that the Northeast Arc is fully implementing all of the reopening guidelines set forth by EOHHS.
The Northeast Arc, like many businesses in Massachusetts were able to reopen the beginning of July. The Heritage Shredding and Caning Companies reopened on July 13 with a limited work force at each business location. Our Breaking Grounds Coffee shop located in downtown Peabody opened on June 29.
Community-Based Day Supports and Work Training:
Our Work Supports Program, Journeys, and STEP Main Sts and Discover & Design Programs were all opened the week of August 10. It is important to note that our STEP and Community Horizons Holten St. Programs will be moving to a new location We are excited to announce that these program services will be offered at the Liberty Tree Mall in a new agency-wide community space. It is expected that these programs will reopen at the beginning of September. At this time, we will not be returning to our community group worksites.
The majority of these services will be provided remotely. We began Job Developing and limited on-site Job Coaching on July 16. We will continue to offer remote assessments and employment-focused trainings. Job Developers and the Program Director will discuss in detail what/how services will be provided with each individual.
The following is an outline of the protocols and procedures we will be implementing:
Preventative measures and Pre-Screening:
- Support staff and individuals will be required to wear a face mask or shield at all times.
- All staff and individuals participating in Day Services will be screened for symptoms, including temperature checks, upon arrival each day.
- Daily staff will complete an attestation form for themselves and for each individual supported prior to entering any of our program locations.
- Any individual who develops symptoms while at a Northeast Arc Day program will be isolated until transportation arrives to take the individual home.
- It is the expectation that every individual will be picked up promptly for the comfort of the individual and the safety of others in the program.
- Any staff member with symptoms will be sent home and instructed to contact their health care provider.
- Symptoms may include:
- Fever over 100
- Pan or pressure in chest
- Bluish lips
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty Breathing
- We are asking that anyone transporting an individual to a Northeast Arc Day program remain in their car until the individual is pre-screened. Staff will indicate to the driver when they can leave. This is to ensure that the individual meets all pre-screening requirements prior to the driver’s departure.
- If an individual receiving services is sent home for a fever, they will not be allowed to return until they are 72 hours fever free without fever reducing medication and at least 3 days have passed.
- Staff exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 will be required to contact their healthcare provider for further evaluation. Staff will not be allowed to return until they are 72 hours fever free without fever reducing medication and at least 3 days have passed since a physician has provided medical clearance to return to work.
- The Northeast Arc will implement COVID-19 reporting procedures (Agency on-call nurse, local Board of Health, etc.)
- Anyone that tests positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed to return to work for 14 days and/or until they have been cleared by a physician to return. In the event that this occurs, all staff and individuals will be notified that there was a (anonymous) positive test.
- Program rooms will be closed until all sanitation and disinfecting protocols have been completed if any staff or individual tests positive for COVID-19.
- Practice safe hygiene: Staff and individuals will practice safe hygiene and will be required to wash their hands, at a minimum, on an hourly basis. Data will be maintained on handwashing sessions and additional training will be provided a minimum of 3 times per week. No physical contact is allowed. This includes contact: such as handshakes or high-fives. All staff and individuals must wash their hands before entering a program room at the start of the day.
- Social Distancing: A 6-foot spacing per person (individuals and staff) has been identified in all Day programs. Areas for each individual will be marked out on all tables and floors will indicate walking paths. The number of individuals/staff that are able to return will be based on the program’s square footage.
- Hand sanitizer: Hand sanitizer will be kept in each programming room. However, handwashing is strongly encouraged with hourly reminders for all individuals and staff.
- Use of bathrooms: Each program will have designated bathrooms. This will allow staff the ability to frequently monitor assigned bathrooms and clean as needed.
- Personal Protection Equipment/PPE: All Day program staff will have access to PPE including: Face shields, masks, gowns, and gloves in the event that someone requires assistance with personal care needs or becomes ill.
- Face masks/covering: All staff and individuals are required to utilize a face covering until further notice. It is the responsibility of each staff and individual to arrive to programs with a face masks/shield. If anyone arrives to program without a face mask they will not be allowed to the building.
Program Cleaning Procedures
- Disinfecting: All programs areas will be cleaned and disinfected before and after operating hours. High traffic and high touch surface areas will be disinfected throughout the day in accordance with our disinfecting protocols.
- Support staff will clean and disinfect all surfaces at the start of each day, lunch, and prior to departing.
- Any shared supplies will be sanitized between use.
- All unnecessary items will be removed from desks/tables and program areas (pictures, plants, décor, etc.).
- All individuals will have their own identified program supply bag to limit the sharing of supplies.
- Daily Cleaning checklists will be provided and completed daily.
- Program Directors will be responsible for the training of all cleaning procedures and oversight checklists.
- Quarantine Area for Day Services: All Northeast Arc Day programs will have identified quarantine rooms. Once the room has been used, the Maintenance Department on-call system will be implemented to notify that an immediate sanitation of the room is needed. Signage will be used on the door to indicate that the room is occupied and when it is closed for disinfecting.
- All Day Services staff will be required to take part in the following mandatory trainings related to the following topic/policies and standards of practices: All Day Service COVID-19 related standards, COVID-19 overview, Infection Control and Universal Precautions.
- Individuals will minimally be provided trainings related to handwashing, wearing a facemask, COVID-19 and Universal Precautions. All new protocols/procedures will be reviewed on the first day of reopening.
Day Service Operating Policies
- Day Services Hours: Hours of Day Service Operations will remain at: 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Please notify the Program Director if you need to make arrangements for an earlier drop-off (8:30-9:00 or a later pick-up (3:00-3:30). It is important to note that drop-offs and pickups cannot occur before 8:30am or after 3:30pm as staff need this time to clean/disinfect.
- Transportation: We have developed a safe transportation plan that implements all EOHHS and Human Service Transportation (HST) guidelines. It is important to note that social distancing must be maintained on a vehicle which significantly limits the number of people we can transport on any given route. In addition, we will ensure that all passengers on a route attend the same day program as a measure to limit exposure.
- High-Risk Individuals: The Northeast Arc highly recommends that individuals who are high-risk not attend Day programs during the initial reopening phases. This includes: People who are 60 or older or those that have chronic medical conditions. Each individual will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
- Community Activities: Community-based outings will be offered only after being approved by the Program Director, Supervisor and/or Division Director.
- Lunch Breaks: Each program will have a designated eating area. Staff and individuals are required to wash their hands before and after each meal. Everyone is required to bring their lunch in a lunchbox or cooler with an ice pack. Staff are not allowed to cook lunches. Food may be reheated in a microwave by staff only and will do so wearing gloves. No eating utensils/plates or cups that requiring washing will be allowed. Throw away single use utensils and paper cups are allowed.
- Refusal to wear a Facemask: All individuals are required to wear masks and maintain social distancing while in Day Services. Individuals that will not comply may be asked to leave Day Services. An outdoor area will be identified for individuals to take a break from wearing a mask.
General Operating Policies
- Meetings: Meetings should be virtual when possible and if in person is required they will be held in a room that can adequately space out individuals to be compliant with social distancing standards.
- Smoking: Any individual or staff that leaves the building to smoke must wash their hands upon their return to the building.
- Visitors: Northeast Arc will be restricting visitation of ALL non-essential people until further notice. Those visitors who are permitted will be:
- Instructed before entry to the facility of the need to be screened for temperature and symptoms
- Limited to a specific location
- Required to wear protective face facemask, and follow appropriate social distancing
If you would like additional information or have questions, please reach out to any Northeast Arc Day Service Program Director or Kathy Marques (Director of Work Training and Employment Services) at KMarques@ne-arc.org.
Watch the videos below to learn about COVID-19 processes and what program participants can expect when they return to Northeast Arc.