Senior Community Centers – COVID-19 Revised Reopening Guidance
Lifting of COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies
With vaccination rates on the rise, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the PA Department of Health (DOH) recently announced the lifting of COVID-19 mitigation strategies. This document provides guidance and recommendations to Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and Senior Community Centers (SCCs) for resuming center operations. This guidance shall not prevent municipalities, local authorities, AAAs, or SCCs from continuing and/or implementing stricter mitigation efforts based on circumstances at the local level.
In the interest of keeping older adults and staff safe, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) continues to promote the importance of following recommendations for mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 virus per CDC and DOH guidance. SCCs cannot require participants, staff, or volunteers to be vaccinated to attend or participate in center activities. SCCs also may not request proof of vaccination, nor deny services to individuals who are not vaccinated or refuse to disclose their vaccination status. SCCs may ask for the voluntary disclosure of vaccination status.
PDA recommends that AAAs and SCCs monitor their local COVID-19 positivity rate and the percentage of individuals vaccinated, if known, when making decisions affecting operating policies and procedures. Due to various factors that make each SCC distinct and until vaccination rates increase, and more is known about the length of vaccine protection and the effectiveness, it may be necessary to continue with some preventative measures.
For SCCs resuming operations, PDA strongly recommends the following activities:
- Review and update SCC COVID-related policies and procedures
- Create and/or maintain a communication plan to inform participants, staff, and volunteers of any necessary operational changes related to COVID-19
- Promote that all participants, staff, and volunteers wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status
- Evaluate changes needed for safe congregate meal service, such as providing individually wrapped and/or single-use items, creating multiple or staggered dining opportunities, and/or rearranging seating
- Practice social distancing within the center
- Post signage in the center to:
- provide educational information relating to COVID-19 and vaccines
- remind participants, staff, and volunteers to stay home if they are ill
- reinforce the wearing of face coverings
- encourage frequent hand washing
- complete a health screening (optional) on everyone that enters the center
- utilize a reservation system for meals and programs
- continue grab-and-go meals as an alternative to congregate meals
- create and/or continue the use of virtual programming
PDA encourages SCCs to employ creative and adaptive approaches to meet the nutrition, socialization, and health and well-being needs of their participants. SCCs will need to be flexible and adapt as conditions change.
AAAs shall continue to report any COVID-19-related changes to center operations to PDA by emailing a completed COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies Change Form to the RA-PaAgingServices@pa.gov email resource account. For questions or technical assistance regarding this guidance, please email the Bureau of Aging Services at RA-PaAgingServices@pa.gov or contact Robert Cherry at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-772-2551.
Issued: June 9, 2021