September 24, 2020

While we are happy and excited to see day and after-school programming return to CLASS, we will continue with a very measured and guarded approach to further re-openings since the number of Covid cases have been climbing again.

As a result, we have made the decision to hold off moving forward with any new or additional programming at this time. This decision was not an easy one to make, but one we felt must be made on the side of caution, not only for the people we support, but also for our staff and their families.

CLASS will continue to keep our friends and families informed of all changes in the days and weeks ahead, as we all continue to help fight and slow the spread of COVID -19.

We look forward to seeing you all again very soon! Stay safe and healthy and call or email us if you have any questions.

Thank you.

September 22, 2020

As you are undoubtedly aware, Ontario is experiencing a significant spike in cases with 478 new infections reported again today. These numbers are reflective of the numbers we saw in early May, which was weeks before we were able to move to stage one of the provincial re-opening. This causes us grave concern as a potential second wave combined with seasonal influenza could be devastating for our community. The CLASS management team have met and are monitoring the situation very closely. We are asking that you follow the gathering and social distancing rules at all times. We are not supporting travel outside of the South Simcoe area as we are directing people to avoid ‘hotspots” throughout the province. Please note that as the situation changes, CLASS will respond by amending guidelines and visiting protocols as part of our risk management strategy. We appreciate your support and patience as we all work through this second wave.

Here is the latest updates from Public Health:
Simcoe Muskoka Health Website

Effective September 19, 2020
The Government of Ontario announced the new limit on the number of people allowed to attend unmonitored private social gatherings across the province:

10 people at an indoor event or gathering (previous limit of 50);
25 people at an outdoor event or gathering (previous limit of 100)
Indoor and outdoor events and gatherings cannot be merged together. Gatherings of 35 (25 outdoors and 10 indoors) are not permitted.

Unmonitored and private social gatherings include functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, BBQs or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, parks and other recreational areas.

Thank you.

September 18, 2020

As the COVID numbers rise provincially CLASS is monitoring the changing landscape daily. We have not pulled back on community outings, visits or short-term absences as of yet, however, due to our responsibility to slow/stop the spread of COVID, we will revisit all, as needed.

Please see the update from Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit

CLick here for Simcoe Muskoka Health Website

Worrisome rise in COVID-19 cases a reminder to shrink social circles, gatherings

SIMCOE MUSKOKA – As local cases of COVID-19 sharply rise to numbers not seen since the spring, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is asking the public to shrink their social circles as much as possible to those within their own household and to be cautious to reduce their exposure within the community.

“As our social interactions have increased in the summer, so too have our COVID-19 cases, which is worrisome at this time when we are just now returning to school, and for the more vulnerable in our communities,” said Dr. Colin Lee, SMDHU’s associate medical officer of health. “We need people to scale back on their get-togethers/gatherings, and to remember to be cautious with people not in their household, even if they are in their social circle of 10. Social circles are not invincible to COVID-19.”

There have been 42 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (as of Thursday) in Simcoe Muskoka for the week of September 13th. This is the highest number of weekly cases since the week of May 10th when the region saw 44 cases, and the week still has not ended. The increase in cases includes clusters in multiunit dwellings and households, and one case related to a school staff member.

“This pandemic has been difficult for all of us and we know that everyone is trying to do their best,” said Dr. Lee. “What we need to do now is continue to work together, and to look out for one another, so that we can live with this pandemic as safely and as normally as possible until it’s over.”

To keep everyone safe, including those returning to school and those living in long-term care homes:
Shrink your close contacts (the people you can get close to such as hugging and touching) as much as possible to only those people within your own household and those whose well-being requires or is dependent on it.
Think carefully about how often and where you go out to in the public, and try to limit to what is essential and avoid crowded spaces.

Limit social gatherings, and keep the number of people in your gatherings and get-togethers to 10 people or less indoors, or 25 or less outdoors; with people outside of your household, practice physical distancing, or wear a mask if you can’t.
Parents should screen children for symptoms of COVID-19 every day before they leave for school; if a child has even one symptom, they should stay home and self-isolate, and get tested.

People are also reminded to continue to practice physical distancing, wear a mask in indoor public spaces, and outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained, practice hand hygiene, self-monitor for symptoms and if you have symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and get tested.

For more information on COVID-19, visit the health unit’s COVID-19 website, including Frequently Asked Questions or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520, Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Thank you.
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September 1, 2020

The health, safety, and well-being of people who access our services and our employees has been our top priority since the beginning of this pandemic. CLASS has continued to follow and change our policies in compliance with the most up to date information from Public Health, the Government of Ontario, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS).

The new guidelines that came into effect on August 28, 2020 around re-opening of congregate care settings provide updated direction on the following:
• Day visits off CLASS property
• Outings
• Essential overnight visits
• Outdoor visits on CLASS property

As the government continues with the phased re-opening of the province it is important to recognize that people in congregate care living enjoy the same rights as all Ontarians. These new guidelines respect people supported and their rights, desires, and willingness to participate in the life of their community while following public health guidance.

Access to outings and community participation must be in-line with people’s preferences and within reasonable restrictions that safeguard people supported and staff. Please refer to the attached Risk Activity Levels and Matrix of Support for Covid-19 that CLASS utilizes as a guide to determine risk levels.

For all activities outside of the group home including day visits, outings and overnights, the following requirements must be met by the person CLASS supports:
• Must pass an active screening questionnaire for signs and symptoms of and potential exposure to Covid-19 each time they re-enter the group home setting
• Screened twice daily, if someone does not pass a screening, CLASS will follow isolation policies
• Perform proper hand hygiene upon exit and entry of the group home setting and maintain hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette on entry and exit of all buildings and spaces while in the community
• Must maintain hand hygiene after touching objects or surfaces that could be touched by others or after touching others
• When out in the community must wear a face mask/covering/cloth mask when entering indoor spaces or when they are within 6 feet of others in outdoor spaces; masks should only be removed to eat or drink and put back on immediately after
• Adhere to physical distancing as much as possible and to any public health advice related to local conditions and requirements
• Crowded spaces and interactions with multiple people should be avoided.

MCCSS directs agencies such as CLASS to take careful consideration as to when and whether an essential overnight visit (e.g. to a family home) is considered necessary to maintain the health, wellness and safety, or any applicable legal rights, of a resident.

We are asking families to please consider the impact a day or overnight visit may have on the person supported. With the enhanced precautions, especially after an overnight visit, CLASS is encouraging day visits only if at all possible. If the person visiting cannot wear a mask as per the guidelines during their visit, families are encouraged to wear a mask to help keep them safe, as well as a protection to others upon their family members return back to the group home.

Essential Overnight Absences:

Upon return to a CLASS group home from an overnight visit (e.g. to a family home), the following enhanced precautions must take place for 14-days post visit:
• The person supported must pass an active screening questionnaire that screens for signs and symptoms of and potential exposures to COVID-19
• They may only receive outdoor visitors during the 14 days (visits are not permitted in CLASS residences at this time)
• They will be monitored for symptoms
• They will be directed to avoid using common areas; however, if a common area cannot be avoided, the resident must use a face covering/mask
• They will have limited contact with other residents
• They may only participate in group activities if physical distancing is maintained (i.e., a distance of 6 feet) and use a face covering/mask
• They will be required to practice proper hand hygiene by washing their hands often (using soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer)
• Adherence to respiratory etiquette
• Continue to follow appropriate physical distancing guidelines (i.e., maintaining a distance of 6 feet).

People supported who are following the 14-day of enhanced precautions may leave their group home for day visits (non-overnight)/outings, e.g. go to school, go on walks and other activities of daily living, following the precautions outlined above.

Leaving their home for a day visit/outing will NOT reset the 14-day time period. However, another overnight stay during the same 14-day period will reset the 14-day period.

If you wish to arrange an off-site day visit please connect with the house staff to co-ordinate. If you are considering an overnight visit, please contact the program supervisor to discuss.

Outdoor Visits on CLASS Property

You are welcome to continue visiting at CLASS, staff will no longer need to be at the visit, and we ask that you continue to follow all safety practices.

1. Plan ahead. Visits must be booked with the SSW or supervisor at a designated time and location.
a. Keep it small. No more than two visitors at a time.
b. Keep it simple. Work with the team to determine what type of visit is right for you:
• Drive-by
• Outdoor

2. Participate in ‘Active Screening’ – you will be asked to complete a COVID-19 screen prior to visiting. If you do not have access to filling out the form, a CLASS staff will contact you prior to your visit and complete the form with you. You must be screened prior to the visit occurring.

Use this link to complete the screen:
https://forms.gle/qafUpbHCbRN2uUT77.

3. We will ask you to reschedule your visit if any of the following are true for you:
• Fever (37.8 of higher)
• Cough
• Sneezing
• Sore throat
• Diagnosed with COVID-19
• Exposed to someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
• Travelled outside of Ontario in the last 14 days
• Have been advised by Public Health to self-isolate
• Have had a positive COVID-19 test in the last 14 days.

4. If you can maintain physical distancing of 6 feet a mask is not required when outside.

5. Please follow all hand hygiene practices.

6. Bring a gift/food…if you want. The gift of your time and company is most important.

7. Please note: There is no access to washroom at the visit sites.

Be flexible. For reasons such as illness or bad weather…or other extenuating circumstances at the manager’s discretion, the visit may need to be rescheduled. Please be gracious with us as we reschedule your visit as soon as we are able!

Below are some links on how to wear and remove non-medical masks or face-covering and proper hand hygiene:

• Public Health Ontario advice on non-medical masks/face coverings
• Government of Ontario website for Face Coverings and Face Masks
• Health Canada: How to wear a non-medical mask or face covering properly (video)

Thank you.

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June 17, 2020
Stage 3 of Ontario’s reopening plans begin today with public gathering limits increased, and nearly all business and public spaces opening including parks. However, social circles in all stages at this point will be kept to a maximum of 10 people province-wide, regardless of stage. You can read more about Stage 3 here.

CLASS will continue to take a slower approach to the new stages to keep the people we support, our staff and community safe.

As of this past Monday everyone is now required to wear a face covering in all indoor publicly accessible spaces (businesses, organizations and public transit systems) in Simcoe County. Read more below under Covid news.

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June 12, 2020
As Ontario starts to re-open more public spaces, stores and restaurant patios as part of phase 2, it’s important to note that CLASS will be taking a slow and cautious approach to these guidelines to help protect the health and safety of the people we support, visitors and staff.
This week has brought some exciting news as the Ontario government announced the gradual resumption of visits to residential care settings starting later next week.
While we are very excited to have families connect in person again, please note that the requirements listed below must be met for all visits:
  • The setting must not be in an outbreak (this includes locations that are awaiting COVD-19 test results)
  • Visits are to be held in a dedicated outdoor area, 6 feet apart
  • Staff must be present at the visit
  • Maximum of 2 visitors per person, visit will need to be time-limited
  • Enhanced cleaning in between visits will occur
  • Visitors must adhere to active screening each time they visit, they will not be allowed to visit if they do not pass the screening test
  • Visitors must comply with all protocols in terms wearing face masks, staying 6 feet apart and adhering to proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  • At no time may the visitor enter the residential setting
  • Any non-adherence to these rules will be the basis for discontinuation of the visit
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May 22, 2020
We hope that you and your families are doing well. As parts of our country start to slowly reopen and the number of new cases begins to stabilize, we hope you continue to take care of yourselves by washing your hands, practicing social distancing and following the public health guidelines. Canadian health officials announced this week that non-medical masks are now recommended when physical and distancing is not possible. Read more here.
We know that everyone is anxious to visit their loved ones that reside at CLASS and have them get back to community activities and programs. Although we are not quite there yet, please know that CLASS is in the process of developing guidelines based on information from public health as to how this will look in the coming weeks and months. Like Long Term Care, we are proceeding cautiously to ensure Ontario does not have another spike in cases. Please stay tuned for more on this and we will advise you as soon as we have new information.
CLASS continues to offer weekly online activities and we hope you are able to participate in some of these. If you would like to receive our newsletter please link here to sign up. https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/su/LI96I16/SignUp 

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March 31, 2020

Families and Friends of CLASS update:

With a fundamental shift seen over the past week in the transmission of COVID-19 from travel related to community spread, Community Living Association of South Simcoe (CLASS) continues to take every effort to keep the people we support, our staff and communities safe from COVID-19. We do this by continually updating our information based on the latest guidance from our Public Health and Government officials.

We recognize this is a difficult time for people in support and their families. CLASS remains available to support everyone as needed through this crisis. Below are some of the things we are currently doing to help during this time.

  • CLASS continues to keep all of its community participation programs, training, and meetings suspended (CLASS does not yet have a date when these programs will open up again – please continue to monitor the CLASS website and social media pages for further updates).
  • Online screening remains in place for all staff and essential services entering our homes with clearly outlined protocols around any symptoms experienced as outlined by Public Health.
  • With social distancing a priority for CLASS, staff are finding new ways to connect and engage people supported socially and for recreational activities by:
    • Using technology to connect people with their families and friends using FaceTime, Skype or Zoom (for those without this technology phone calls are being made)
    • Our Resource Staff are using technology to offer bingo, fitness classes, painting and art sessions online to keep people moving and engaged (more on this coming soon!).
  • Staff are using click and collect for grocery shopping to limit exposure to others.
  • People supported continue to go out for car trips and walking around the neighbourhood (check out our Instagram and Facebook pages where we are posting some of these photos).
  • They say “sooner or later everything old is new again”… we are encouraging people to send letters and cards in the mail and ask that families do the same. There’s nothing like getting a “thinking about you card” out of the blue.
  • FYI- the deadline for filing any passport expenses with PassportONE is April 13, 2020.
  • When submitting expenses from CLASS to PassportONE, you will only need a copy of the invoice that is either mailed or emailed to you. If you notice that you have any invoices missing, please contact finance@class.on.ca and someone will be able to assist you. Please feel free to contact finance at any point if you have any questions or concerns.
  • We have created an electronic reference library containing: Activities, Education for People Supported, Health Updates and Wellness articles. See some of these links below.

Useful Links for Families and People Living on their Own:

Important Health Information Links:

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March 20, 2020

Families and Friends;

The health, safety, and well-being of people who access our services and our employees is our top priority. It is our collective responsibility to contain the spread of the virus and help those who are the most vulnerable. C.L.A.S.S. is continually monitoring the situation and in regular contact with the Canadian Public Health Authorities.

As well, we are working closely with our teams, planning and responding to the situation to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We are taking all appropriate measures to ensure homes and community locations are safe and that we have plans and protocols in place to ensure they stay that way. Our focus is on providing essential direct support to people who access our services and ensuring the infrastructure is secure to make that happen.

As of right now CLASS has:

  • Implemented diligent screening of all staff who enter our properties.
  • Temporarily stopped any visitors into all CLASS locations.
  • Temporarily suspended our community participation programs.
  • Temporarily stopped all home visits. If you have chosen to take your family member home, it is with under the understanding they will stay with you for the duration of the pandemic.
  • Temporarily stopped all activities, training, meetings and programs that involve a gathering of people.
  • Utilized technology wherever possible to facilitate communication while ensuring social distancing. Programs will gladly facilitate visits via Skype, FaceTime or other technology-supported means. We continue to work together with our health partners to ensure the health and safety of the people who access our services, our employees, and the community.
  • Implemented additional cleaning in all locations.

We know that is difficult for everyone to limit outings and maintain social distancing with each other, but staff and the people we support are doing a great job. They are utilizing special early morning hours for grocery shopping; going for coffee runs using drive throughs only; enjoying walks around the neighbourhoods; playing games like Wii Sports with their housemates; and cooking. The time is also being used to educate the people we support about COVID-19, hand-washing techniques and helping them if they are feeling uncertain or nervous.

During times like these it is important to rely on our public health partners for up-to-date information and guidance to help slow the spread of this virus.

Here are some reliable resources to help you stay informed:

Your continued co-operation during these difficult times is greatly appreciated.

Lisa Patterson, Chief Operating Officer

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March 16, 2020
Dear Parents/Care Givers and the People we Support:
With the latest information and recommendations from the Canadian government regarding COVID-19 CLASS has made the difficult decision to close all of our non-essential programs as of 8:00 am Wednesday, March 18, 2020 until further notice as follows:
  • RC day programs at 125 Church St. Alliston
  • BCP program in Bradford
  • Passages programs
  • FYI programs
These efforts are to ensure the health and well-being of the people we support, families, staff and the community.
We are sorry for any inconveniences this may cause. If you have any questions or concerns please contact me at 705-435-4792, x 242 or heatherbarzo@class.on.ca.
Sincerely,
Brenda Quinlan, Program Director
Heather Barzo, Program Supervisor
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March 13, 2020

Below are the preventative measures that Community Living for South Simcoe is taking regarding COVID-19 as we assist the people we support and prepare our staff.

Although risk levels remain low in Canada, if you are planning to visit any CLASS program, services or meetings, visiting group locations etc., please adhere to the following:

Do not visit if:

  • If you have travelled outside of Canada within the last 14 days;
  • If you live with anyone that has travelled outside of Canada within the past 14 days;
  • If you are or someone you live with are exhibiting any flu like systems such as cough, fever, or difficulty breathing;

We are asking that you do not visit for a full 14 days following your return to Canada and with confirmation that you are not exhibiting symptoms of or test positive for COVID-19.

Programming Changes

In the event COVID 19 does spread into the community, programs may be altered or cancelled, including community-based activities, reducing participation in large congregated events, etc. Thank you for your continued efforts to prevent any illness, and extra care and precaution as we continue to monitor this situation. The people we support depend on our actions to stay healthy, safe and well! We will continue to update you regularly and our Emergency Preparedness Committee will be working to ensure we are prepared and as up to date on current events as they evolve.

Any questions or concerns, please contact us at info@class.on.ca.

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March 12, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, we are working with our community partners in other agencies to implement appropriate risk management strategies.
As you know, this situation is changing rapidly, and we encourage you to monitor and consult the World Health Organization, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the public health agencies in the city in which you reside. Visit here for Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit. There is also information on the Government of Ontario website that is updated twice daily.
Note that most public health agencies, doctor’s offices and hospitals are recommending that if people are ill, they should contact their local public health agency for telephone screening before attending at a hospital or doctor’s office.
Recommended best practices can differ but in an effort to continue to protect the health and safety of all of our colleagues, we encourage you to follow these recommended actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:
  • Contact a medical provider by phone and stay home if you are sick or feel unwell;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then discard the tissue and wash your hands;
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe;
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; and
  • When not in a position to wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
Our priority continues to be protecting the health of everyone at CLASS and limiting disruption of peoples routines. We appreciate your support and CLASS will continue to monitor the situation and modify our approach to effectively deal with any new developments.
Thank you

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