On Wednesday, May 27, 5A President Luke Mattingly sent letters addressed to Arkansas Senior Center Providers from the Arkansas Association of Area Agency on Aging for a phased reopening of senior centers.
Mattingly’s letter recommended that centers not attempt to open prior to phase two being declared, and not before July 1, 2020. “The CDC recommends vulnerable populations not gather together until phase three has been achieved. Arkansas is still considered to be in phase one. However, there has been some suggestion from various centers that since other segments of commerce are beginning to reopen that centers should also begin to reopen.”
He went on to add that centers that insist on opening may do so with the cooperation of the provider overseeing their operations for Older Americans Act funding, after July 1, and once phase two has been declared.
“As it stands now we will continue to stay closed the month of June,” stated Sebastian County Area Agency Director Deanna Rice. “I will continue to monitor our situation and follow the guidelines given to me by our DAAS Older Americans Act.”
Mattingly warned that even after phase two begins and centers re-open there will be new norms, including capacity restrictions and distancing between tables. Patrons will also be required to wear masks until drinks are served. Employees must also wear a masks. “There can be no communal devices like saltshakers or coffee pots,” stated Mattingly. “…Fitness activities will need to follow guidelines for gyms and fitness facilities. Classroom instruction or presentations will need to adapt to guidelines for churches or other venues that have similar activities. There will need to be physical markings indicating safe social distancing, required postings on doors and paperwork or devices used to collect required information will need to be thoughtfully reconsidered. For example, a single pen available for all to use to sign in is no longer acceptable.”
Rice stated that Sebastian County senior centers will continue offering curbside meal pickup, Monday through Fridays from 10:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.