News & Events

Coronavirus Update

As the COVID 19 crisis continues, we are taking all precautions and following all safety protocols as directed by the State, the Dept. of Public Health, the CDC and OPWDD. Our houses continue to be staffed 24/7. Our Day programs have temporarily closed and we have relocated some of the day staff to our residences. Our fiscal department remains fully functional. Non essential staff are working from home. Our Education Dept is following State Education regulations. Please be assured that The Arc Sullivan-Orange Counties has made Coronavirus and the safety of the people we support and their caregivers our number one priority. The Coronavirus situation changes daily, so please check back frequently for updates.

 


DAY PROGRAM UPDATE

October 30, 2020

Please download the latest update concerning OPWDD Guidance and Day Programs here.


 

November 4, 2020

New Travel Advisory from NY State Governor Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced new guidelines allowing out-of-state travelers to New York to “test out” of the mandatory 14-day quarantine. Travelers from states that are contiguous with New York will continue to be exempt from the travel advisory; however covered travelers must continue to fill out the Traveler Health Form. Essential workers will continue to be exempt as well. The new protocol is effective Wednesday, November 4. 

Read the entire Guidelines here


 

LATEST UPDATE FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR STAFF AND FAMILIES

October 14, 2020

Please download a letter form our Executive Director, Ric Schwartz here.

 


Education Update

August 10th, 2020

Please Download Education IMPORTANT EDUCATION UPDATES 


For Staff

August 3, 2020

Please Download the our Travel Advisory:

 NYS TRAVEL ADVISORY AND THE USE OF BENEFIT TIME  

New York's restricted states for travel change weekly - use this link to see the latest: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory

 


July 31, 2020

View and download our Education REOPEN PLAN HERE

 


 

LATEST UPDATE FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

JULY 21, 2020

Dear Parents/Family Members/Staff and Friends: I am pleased to announce that we currently do not have any house(s) in quarantine, and none of the people we support have an active case of COVID-19. We are waiting for three (3) staff members that have an active case of COVID-19 to recover. We are in the process of opening our day programs slowly. We are following OPWDD protocols for house visitation, community activities and the opening of day programs. 

Again, I encourage family members to visit this page frequently to review updated guidelines and protocols, as things are changing frequently during this pandemic. 

Be Safe.

Sincerely, 
J. Richard Schwartz
Executive Director


EDUCATION UPDATE

July 21, 2020

Hello Parents, students and Educational Learning Experience community,

We are now in our second week of the extended school year 20-21 and the fall will be here before we know it.  With that brings the task of deciding how the start of the 20-21 school year will look.  As we await further information from the governor, we have been working very hard on our re-opening plans.  With the guidance from NY State Education Department, we have been asked to develop our plans with 3 scenarios in mind, full in-person learning, full distance learning and a hybrid model combining the 2.  As my leadership team and I develop these plans we are keeping the health and safety of all of students, staff and families at the forefront of it all.  With each model consisting of various modes of teaching, therapy and support, we will make sure everyone is safe and gets the education and therapy services in the safest manner.  

The social emotional support that is needed is a major component to each scenario.  Our counseling team and school nurses have maintained contact with our families since our closure back in March and will continue to provide that high level of support no matter which opening occurs in the fall.  

Please keep an ear and eye out for a phone call from our nurses so we can gain your input on which model you feel the most comfortable with. 

Thank you and stay safe!

Beth Laub MS.Ed SBL

Assistant Executive Director of Education
Educational Learning Experience
845-564-1855


July 8, 2020

Please download our latest update For Families

 Latest Update for Families 


July 7, 2020

Please read our latest update concerning programs re-opening:

 Programs Returning and survey results


For Families

June 23, 2020

We are pleased to announce that we now allowing Residential Families Visitation. Please download our Residential Interim Visitation Guidance below:

 VISITATION GUIDANCE 


For Staff:

June 22, 2020

Please download our guidelines for returning to work.

 STAFF GUIDELINES 


DAY PROGRAM NEWS

JUNE 19, 2020

Dear families, friends, and colleagues, 

We write to you today to update you on our anticipated reopening plans for day services. As you 
are aware, these programs were closed by state order on March 18th of this year. We are 
anticipating that reopening will take place on or after July 7th, but that it is contingent on 
conditions in the state at that time and further guidance from OPWDD. We have spoken with 
many of you over the past number of weeks and have heard your concerns about maintaining 
safe environments for you and your loved ones. Additionally, we distributed a survey from the Arc 
New York on this topic to better assist in planning our reopening. 

What health checks or other steps are you taking to reduce risk? 

We have been utilizing health checks for all of our employees since the beginning of the outbreak 
- our staff have their temperature taken and symptoms checked prior to starting their shift. Any 
staff member with a temperature above 100.0, or with any of the symptoms of COVID-19 is 
required to leave the premises and seek medical attention and clearance to return to work. In 
addition we have been sanitizing all surfaces in common areas, bathrooms, and have developed 
policies and procedures for our staff to follow during program operations.  

What will reopened programs look like? 

Site based programs will not return at full capacity at first. We anticipate no more than 50% 
capacity at any time, to ensure we can maintain social distancing and hygiene in our program 
areas. The number of people in a room will be reduced to allow for social distancing, and the 
composition of groups will also change to keep people who reside together in the same program 
area where possible. We expect all participants and staff to follow guidance on mask use and 
handwashing, unless there is a medical reason preventing compliance with these steps.  

Will I attend the same program as before? 

In some cases yes, and in some cases no - in order to ensure minimal risk, those who live 
together will travel together and attend the same program. Those who are using the same 
transportation will also attend the same program - we will not be using one vehicle to drop people 
at multiple programs as this represents a significant transmission risk. These changes will be in 
place until the end of the pandemic, or until it is deemed safe by health authorities to return to 
pre-covid practices. 

What will transportation look like? 

Different! We are currently ironing out the details, but with limited capacity at sites, there will be less 
people using transportation. This will involve social distancing, use of masks, and health checks for 
all those we transport on our own vehicles. For those who use transportation provided by Rolling-V 
there will be safety screens and PPE for drivers and monitors, assigned seating and cohorted 
transportation for those that live together. Sanitizing procedures are in place to ensure vehicles are 
thoroughly cleaned before and after use, and our drivers will be completing a health screening for 
everyone prior to boarding a vehicle. We will not be providing transportation to those who have a 
temperature above 100.0 or who display symptoms of Covid like illness, or have been exposed to a 
confirmed or presumed positive case of Covid.  

I attend a community based program - will there be changes? 

Yes, there will be some changes in times, activities and group makeups and sizes to minimize the 
risk of infection and ensure safety for participants and staff. Many community activities will not be 
able to resume as before for a variety of reasons, while others will. We will be working with each 
group individually to identify available options and make plans accordingly.  

What if I don't want to return to program yet? 

You are not obligated to return. If you feel that the risks are too great based on your, or your loved 
ones, circumstances let us know. We will work with you to identify what we can do to minimize those
risks and to plan on returning when you are able and comfortable. 

You mentioned that there will be reduced capacity - who will return and who will not? 

We have identified four broad categories for return to program priority. Please understand alongside 
these categories, additional considerations such a person's ability to practice social distancing, 
wearing a face covering, and ability to acclimate to altered programming will impact how soon return 
to program will take place. Where we encounter issues we will work with each person and their 
support team to identify solutions and alternative options.  

 

1. Those living in the community - either at home with family, in family care, or on their own 

2. Those living with a residential provider who have not been receiving day services through
the shutdown, and those who have had difficulties adjusting to the shutdown of program. 

3. Those living in our own residential program 

4. Those with significant risk factors for complications due to COVID-19 those with compromised 
immune systems or other medical conditions that are known to place people at risk for severe 
complications.  

 

 

What if my question hasn't been answered here, or I have more questions - who can I contact? 

For questions about programs in Orange County contact: 

Veronica DePolito, Assistant Executive Director of Day Services
vdepolito@arcsullivanorange.org (845) 343-0871 x 4342 

 

For questions about programs in Sullivan County contact: 

Colleen Borko, Assistant Executive Director of Day Services 
cborko@arcsullivanorange.org (845) 796-1350 x 5103 

We would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families continued health and hope 
to see you as soon as circumstances allow.

 

Sincerely,
The Arc Sullivan-Orange Day Services Team,

Colleen Borko, Veronica DePolito, Jermey Fairchild, Kimberly Ferguson,
Nicole Gold, Cathie Illenberg, Sheila Scott, Maxine Strother

 


LATEST UPDATE FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

June 11, 2020

Dear Parents/Family Members/Staff and Friends: 

I would like to provide another update on our agency. As of today, we have 6 people we support and 10 staff members who have an active case of COVID-19, with only one house under a mandated quarantine. These numbers are the lowest they have been in a long time.

We have received notification from OPWDD that day programs may open when the region moves into phase 4. The projected date for phase 4 is July 7th. We have been working on plans that will allow for health screenings, social distancing, and potentially a reduction in attendance to safe guard those returning to program. We will share additional detailed information and protocols as we move closer to the opening date.

Unfortunately, we have not received any instructions from OPWDD on changes to the protocols in residential houses. We are waiting for instructions for residential; particularly regarding visitation and community outings. When this information becomes available, we will share it with you.

I hope you continue to visit our website and Facebook page to get daily updates on current 
events in our agency.

Be Safe.

Sincerely,

Ric Schwartz
Executive Director 


EDUCATION UPDATE

June 9, 2020

As I’m sure many of you have heard, the governor has made an announcement regarding in person summer school. Our program is awaiting further guidance from him and SED as to what this means for The Educational Learning Experience. At this time we are continuing as we have been through the end of the school year (6/26). As soon as we have confirmed our extended school year summer session plan you will be notified.

I understand this is a very stressful time and we anxiously await the details of how we will move forward and as a program we want to ensure that your children, staff and families are being provided the safest and healthiest learning environment that we can provide. Thank you again for your patience and understanding and as soon as we have further guidance from SED and the governor I will update everybody.

 

Beth Laub MS. Ed SBL

Assistant Executive Director of Education


EDUCATION UPDATE

May 26, 2020

The latest Education News from Beth Laub:
I am writing to update you all on the extended school year status. As a program that runs all year, we will continue to provide distance learning and tele therapy to all of our students who qualify for the extended school year.

Our staff will be sending out updated releases, consents and prescriptions in order to continue to support each of our students and their families. Our teachers and therapists will continue with distance learning and teletherarpy as per the IEP’s. Please continue to do the best you can and as always, reach out for any support you may need. 

I understand the challenge of the distance learning platform, but we are thankful to each of you for the work you are doing. All of the staff at ELE will continue with our best efforts to ensure each students IEP and well-being are being addressed!

The health and safety of each student, their family, and the ELE team are the priority as we move through this. I continue to keep each of you in my thoughts and prayers every day as we go through this, but the health and safety of our students and staff come first.

We are continuing to develop our plan to reopen. Our school nurses and administration continue to work with the Department of Health, the CDC, NYSED, Counties and districts to ensure everyone’s safety upon return. 

We will continue to get through this together and you ARE ALL DOING AN INCREDIBLE JOB!!!!!
All my thanks to each of you!
Beth Laub MS.Ed SBL
Assistant Executive Director of Education

 


LATEST UPDATE FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

May 21, 2020

Dear Parents/Family Members/Staff and Friends:

I would like to provide another update on our agency.

As part of our updates, we provide numbers for those testing COVID-19 positive in our Sullivan-Orange family. As of today, we have a total of 14 people we support and 17 staff members who have an active case of COVID-19.

Please know, as we have stated before, the health and safety of the people we support and of our staff is our highest priority.  We distribute the necessary supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the houses on a weekly basis and as needed.

The PPE is provided in accordance with CDC and Department of Health guidelines, and varies based on the presence or absence of quarantined or isolated individuals and nursing guidance specific to the location in question.

While we will continue to provide updates, I, again encourage you to visit our website and Facebook page to get daily updates on current events in our agency.

Be Safe.

Sincerely,

J. Richard Schwartz
Executive Director


Education Update: May 14, 2020

Regarding school on May 22, 2020

Please be advised that pursuant to the Governor's executive order, education programming will continue on Friday, May 22nd. That day was previously scheduled as closed (for a long Memorial Day Weekend), but based on NYSED guidance we need to be “OPEN” and continue to teach and learn remotely on that day (Friday 5/22) and for the rest of the school year. Education will be closed on Monday, May 25th for Memorial Day. Education instruction should continue daily as it has been.

 

Wishing all a Happy Memorial Day, 

Beth Laub MS.Ed SBL

Assistant Executive Director of Education


LATEST UPDATE FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

May 5, 2020

 

Dear Parents/Family Members/Staff and Friends:

 

I would like to again, provide an update on the agency. This is not an easy time for any of us.  Our dedicated staff have been working hard to ensure we continue to provide quality service to those we support.  There are stories shared on our Facebook page with some of thecreative activities that are keeping people engaged and active. I encourage you to follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram,) to see updates about our agency.

As part of our updates, we provide numbers for those testing COVID-19 positive in our Sullivan-Orange family. As of today, we have a total of 25 people we support who tested positive with COVID; fifteen (15) of which recovered and are symptom free. We have a total of 38 staff that tested positive, thirteen (13) of which haverecovered. Rest assured we distribute an adequate supply of Personal Protective Equipment to the houses ona weekly basis and as needed.

We realize that a return to what was once normal may be years away. We also recognize that this brings anopportunity to be creative about the services we provide and how they will look if we live under ongoingcircumstances of social distancing and reduced numbers of people congregating in an area, for any reason.

As we move from acute crisis to a period of prolonged challenges, and it becomes clear when our region will re-open, various departments will reach out to stakeholders to get your input on how services can best supportyou and/or your family member; while maintaining their and staffâ•Žs safety.  In the near future, when we reachout, I encourage each of you to take the time to share with us your concerns for returning to regular programming, and what you need from us during this difficult time.

As you know, the health and safety of the people we support and of our staff is our highest priority. We continueto be vigilant in our efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Please remember to check out our Facebook  page for updates, and to see all the good work of our staff, and the fun activities happening daily.

Be Safe.

Sincerely,

J. Richard Schwartz


SCHOOL NEWS

An updated message from our Assistant Executive Director of Education

 

May 1, 2020

 

Dear Parents, Guardians and ELE Staff,

As I sat anxiously awaiting the announcement of how the governor was going to handle schools across NY in his Friday 5/1 briefing, I had mixed emotions going in, and even deeper emotions coming out of it.  As he made the formal announcement to close schools, I had a sense of relief from the health and safety perspective, but also, an overwhelming feeling of sadness due to us not being able to be together through the rest of this year.  Please know that you are all my thoughts and prayers every day as we go through this, but the health and safety of our students and staff come first.

We have already begun to develop our plan to reopen, no matter when that may be.  Our school nurses and administration are working closely with the Department of Health, the CDC, NYSED, Counties and districts to ensure everyone’s safety upon return.  

Our teachers and therapists will continue with distance learning and teletherarpy as per the IEP’s.  Please continue to do the best you can and as always, reach out for any support you may need. 

We will get through this together and you ARE ALL DOING AN INCREDIBLE JOB!!!!!

All my thanks to each of you!

Beth Laub MS.Ed SBL

Assistant Executive Director of Education

845-564-185

 

 


April 22, 2020

Download the latest letter to Family, Friends and Staff from our Executive Director, Ric Schwartz here.


EDUCATION UPDATE

A letter from our Assistant Executive Director of Education

April 17, 2020

Dear Educational Learning Experience Parents and Guardians,

I hope this letter finds you all well under these stressful times.  Please remember to reach out to your child’s team if any extra support is needed,  I am reaching out to update you again on the latest executive orders from the Governor’s office, which I am sure you have all heard.  We will remain closed through May 16, 2020. 

Continue to do your best to work with your children and their teachers, therapists and counselors in order to allow for as much structure for your child. 

I wish you all the best during this time, and please take care!

Beth Laub MS.Ed SBL
Assistant Executive Director of Education
Educational Learning Experience
845-564-1855


Latest COVID Guidance for Staff April 8, 2020


 

A letter From our Assistant Executive Director of Education:

April, 6, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians, 

I hope you are all doing well during this stressful time.  I am reaching out to update you on the latest executive orders from the Governor’s office, which I am sure you have all heard.  We will remain closed through April 29, 2020. 

During this time please do your best to work with your children, their teachers, therapists and counselors in order to allow for as much structure for your child. 

Please know how much they are missed by myself and each staff member who works with them.  We are in this together and will get through it together. 

Most of the districts have submitted their COVID 19 closure plans to the Orange County Department of Health. Based on this information we are now permitted to provide services through tele therapy as per the NYSED Guidelines. In order to do this, we need for you to sign and return the consents that were mailed to you as soon as possible.

Lastly, we are all doing the best we can!!  We are all trying new things, stepping out of our comfort zones, but please remember, that each of you are amazing!

 

Beth Laub MS.Ed SBL
Assistant Executive Director of Education
Educational Learning Experience
845-564-1855


March 31, 2020

Letter to our Families

Dear Parents, Family Members, and Staff:

I would like to give you a brief update on the status of the organization during this COVID-19 pandemic.  We continue to work with The Arc New York, OPWDD, CDC and Public Health Departments. To date, we have eight staff who have tested positive.  We hope to have them back to work healthy and able to resume their normal duties in the near future.   We have two people residing in our residential homes who also tested positive.  We hope to see them make a full recovery.  The majority of these positive cases are in the same residential home.

We are following all protocols set by CDC, OPWDD and Public Health including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), temperature checks of staff at the start of their shift, vital checks of people supported, monitoring of COVID-19 symptoms, and the use of quarantine and isolation as warranted.  In a number of situations, we have proactively used precautionary quarantines for the safety of those residing in the homes and the staff. We have also restricted the sharing of staff amongst homes to help limit the possibility of exposures. Access to a medical professional is critical at this time.  Therefore, we have extended telehealth services as a benefit to all staff.  

As you may know obtaining PPE has been difficult. Our Fiscal Department has been diligent in their efforts to acquire necessary supplies and The Arc NY has been a valuable resource to us as well.  We have the supplies that we need to address our current situation. In anticipation of an increase of positive cases, we have additional supplies on hand with more on order.

Most recently, a person who resided in one of our residential homes passed away.  Although his passing has yet to be attributed to the COVID-19 virus, we are using caution and treating it as such.  The necessary measures have for safety and wellbeing are in place in the home.  We are saddened by this loss and our hearts go out to his friends and family.

We have had so many dedicated staff members exemplify teamwork and provide support whenever and however needed.  Some of the stories can be found on our Facebook page.  We would like to thank our staff for balancing their safety and health with the tremendous responsibility of providing support and care to the people who receive our services. Please keep yourself healthy and safe during these times.

Sincerely,

J.Richard Schwartz
Executive Director

Download PDF version here


SCHOOL UPDATE:

March 27, 2020

A message from Beth Laub,
Assistant Executive Director of Education

Hello ELE Families, staff and friends,

As I am sure you all heard that the governor has extended the executive order of school closures through April 15.

I know there are lots of questions and I am working with our executive team to discuss how this will look as we move ahead. I am waiting for guidance from The State Education Department so we can formulate a plan.

Thank you all!!

Beth Laub MS. Ed SBL
Assistant Executive Director of Education
The Arc Sullivan-Orange Counties, NY


How does the Stimulus Package Affect People with Developmental Disabilities?

Read the latest report from The Arc

 


March 25, 2020

Letter to the Families of our Educational Learning Experience from Beth Laub

Dear Parent, Guardians and ELE family; 

The Educational Learning Experience has been actively working with our internal team, SED and counties as how to best assist our students, families and staff during the Pandemic of Covid-19. We understand this changing landscape has created significant upheaval in everyone’s lives. We are vigorously working to address the concerns of our families and staff as the changes at the State and Federal level are rapidly changing to keep up with the current health environment.  Per the Governor’s most recent Executive Order, our schools will remain closed through March 31st with a tentative return date of April 1. 

The program recently designated March 23rd - 30th as “Spring Break.” Keep in mind that these official acts are with the expectation that school closures will be extended.  We are working hard to determine the way best way support our students academically, socially, and emotionally. 

Our program supervisors will be guiding teachers, therapists, families and students during this time. Ultimately we all must work together to facilitate our student’s access to the education program and the connections needed during these unprecedented times of social distancing.  

In the meantime, please look for information on how we will proceed. 

This is a difficult and stressful time for many of us. I urge families  and staff to seek out the resources provided on the county and State websites. Our social workers and school psychologist have been putting together information which will be included in the information we send home in the upcoming days. 

In the meantime stay healthy and safe. 

Beth Laub MS.Ed SBL

Assistant Executive Director of Education
Educational Learning Experience
845-564-1855

 

March 20, 2020

Letter to the Families of our Educational Learning Experience from Beth Laub
Download here

March 19, 2020

Letter to Families

Dear Arc Sullivan-Orange families, friends, and advocates, 

In an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) is requiring a temporary suspension of visitation to our residential programs, effective immediately. 

We fully recognize the emotional impact of these restrictions on our families, but it is a necessary precaution as we work to minimize transmission of COVID-19 in our community and the risk to our staff and the people we support.  We feel it is our responsibility to limit all potential exposure opportunities as many of the individuals we provide services to have existing conditions that put them in a higher risk category.  

Furthermore, if you would prefer to take your loved one to your personal residence during this difficult time, we will unfortunately require that they remain home with you for an indefinite time period.  At the present time, we will be unable to receive individuals back into the residence that have been out of our care and have potential exposure opportunities that we will not be able to account for.       

The health and safety of the entire Arc Sullivan-Orange community remains our highest priority, especially during these extraordinary times. At this point in time, there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any of our residential programs.  We continue to monitor all guidance from local, state and federal agencies, and will stay in close communication with you about our response as the situation develops.  

Community is essential in times of crisis, and we appreciate your support and understanding as we work to sustain our connections in creative ways. 

Sincerely,


Peter Catal
Assistant Executive Director for Residential Services

 

March 17, 2020

We are providing an update from yesterday's notification. Our original plan was to close day programs, and have 1 site in each county to provide day services to people living with their family per OPWDD's directive.

Since then, OPWDD has directed all providers to temporarily suspend operations of all site-based day programs beginning today, March 17, at 5 p.m. In an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), all Day Programs are suspended indefinitely.

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any of our programs at this time. We continue to monitor all guidance from local, state and federal agencies, and will stay in close communication with you about our response as the situation develops.

We realize the impact suspension of our day programs has on our families, staff and the people we support, however it is critical we take action to limit the spread of illness. We appreciate your understanding as we work together to ensure the health and safety of our community. 

Read the full letter here.

 


UPDATES FOR STAFF 


March 16, 2020

DAY PROGRAM & CLINIC UPDATES

The safety and well being of the people we support is our highest priority.  With the recent developments and updates, effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020 The Arc Sullivan-Orange Counties' Day Programs will be closed through Friday, April 3, 2020. One site per county will remain open to support people who live at home with family or independently.

Transportation is cancelled.  Program staff will be reaching out to those living at home or their family members to discuss individual circumstances.

Additionally, all non-essential Clinical Services are cancelled effective Wednesday March 18, 2020, and will be rescheduled as soon as practical. Psychiatry services will be provided via telemedicine. Patients will be contacted to verify they are able to participate in telemedicine visits. If they are not, we will make alternative arrangements. All PT/OT/Speech and other services delivered in person at our clinic locations are cancelled until further notice, with the exception of emergency dental and podiatry appointments. Please call 845-796-1350 extension 6210 or 6041 if you have a dental or podiatry emergency.

We will continue to assess the situation and communicate any updates. 


March 16, 202

EDUCATION

All of the Education programs with The Arc Sullivan-Orange Counties are closed

Please check back for updates and a re-opening date.

DAYCARE

Daycare is closed until further notice. Check back for updates

Learn about our PRE-SCREENING Policy & Procedures for visitors


March 13, 202

The Arc of the U.S. is working diligently with the Federal Government to make sure policies and protections are in place. This includes expanding access to health care, making sure that direct support professionals (DSPs), who support people with disabilities to live independently, can continue to do their vital work, and much more.

The Arc U.S. Statement:

The Arc is pleased that Congress is recognizing the unique and vital needs that people with disabilities have when facing the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergency relief bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today includes important and specific measures that would help mitigate the potentially catastrophic impacts of the novel coronavirus on millions of people with disabilities.

As we grow increasingly concerned over the threat of COVID-19 to people with disabilities, their families, and the workforce that supports them, we are encouraged that the House bill includes increased federal reimbursement for state Medicaid programs, which will help the uninsured gain access to COVID-19 testing, emergency requirements for all health insurers to cover testing, expanded nutrition assistance, and paid sick days and paid leave.

We are glad to see that the paid sick time and paid leave provision could be used to care for loved ones who are “otherwise in need of care.” That would cover workers who take time off to care for a loved one with a disability who has lost their primary source of care due to the new coronavirus.

As the legislation moves through Congress, we are advocating for specific funding to support the direct support professional workforce that supports people with disabilities, whose wages largely come from Medicaid, and that they are covered by both paid sick days and paid leave policies put in place by this legislation. Further, people with disabilities must be able to have access to a 90-day supply of medication and medical supply re-fills.

“This bill addresses many of the needs of people with disabilities in this global crisis. As the coronavirus relief bill moves through Congress, the paid sick days and paid leave policy must include funding to cover our direct support workforce,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc. “We fear that without appropriate action by Congress and President Trump, the coronavirus pandemic could lead to further exacerbation of the workforce crisis and the unnecessary placement of people with disabilities and aging adults into institutions and other congregate settings in violation of their rights and posing risk to their health.”

Please help us by signing this petition:
https://disabilityadvocacynetwork.org/app/make-a-call?0&engagementId=506816

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March 9, 2020

Dear Family and Friends of Arc Sullivan-Orange Counties:

At present The Arc Sullivan-Orange Counties does not have a confirmed case of COVID-19 caused by the novel Coronavirus in our agency. However, we are aware of concerns in the community about the spread of this relatively new virus and wish to share some important information with you.

Our Executive Management Team is closely monitoring this fluid situation and following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), Orange & Sullivan County Departments of Health, and New York State OPWDD.

Based on recent reports, there are 105 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New York State at the time of this letter, most of which are centered on the downstate area with single digit cases in the Hudson Valley and Capital Region.  If we become aware that an individual served or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19, The Arc Sullivan-Orange will immediately notify staff and parents/guardians. If a person supported or staff member shows respiratory symptoms, we will follow our current practices for handling respiratory illnesses, subject to any additional guidance forthcoming.

The Arc Sullivan-Orange has infectious disease protocols in place and routinely takes steps, such as cleaning and disinfecting surfaces throughout all main locations, including day and residential programs, to minimize the spread of viruses and a variety of other illnesses.

There are a number of steps that individuals, staff, and community members can take to minimize the spread of all respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, according to the state Department of Health:

·      Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Heavily soiled hands should be washed.

·      Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

·      Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

·      Stay home when you are sick.

·      Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

·      Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

If you or a family member begin showing symptoms of a respiratory disease and suspect it may be COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider. Before going to your healthcare provider’s office, inform them that a case of COVID-19 is suspected, and follow their advice.

Families are also encouraged to follow the CDC’s information for travel, available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html. For more information, consider consulting these additional resources:

·      Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
       https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/

·      Travel: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
     https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/faqs.html

·      COVID-19: What is Stigma and What Causes It?
     https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html?CDC_AA_reVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus@2F2019-ncov%2Fstigma-faq.html·     

·      New York State Department of Health information
     https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/

In addition, New York has established a Novel Coronavirus Hotline, which can provide additional information. Call 1-888-364-3065 with questions or concerns about travel and symptoms.

The Arc Sullivan-Orange Counties will continue to share information as it becomes available.

Please know that, as always the health and safety of the people we support and staff is our highest priority, and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to help prevent the spread of all respiratory illnesses including COVID-19/Novel Coronavirus.

Sincerely,

J. Richard Schwartz
Executive Director