Friends, families and wonderful JFGH supporters:
I hope you have all had a good, peaceful week. The weather is changing (for the far better!), and fall is in the air. I have just a couple updates for you this week.
1. Since my last e-blast, we have, I’m happy to report, remained COVID-19 free. To all of you and all of us who continue to stay committed to wearing face coverings, washing hands thoroughly and often, and preserving physical distancing when- and wherever possible, thank you! These simple measures work—so says the research, in abundance—and they’re easy!
2. Montgomery County remains on Phase 2 of the State’s re-opening plan, while many other parts of Maryland have been in Phase 3 for some time. We receive updates from the county weekly. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich has eased some restrictions in Phase 2, virtually none of which impact JFGH.
Specifically, County Executive Elrich, after consultation with County Health Officer Dr.
Travis Gayles, has issued an updated executive order that clarifies provisions of the
Phase 2 Guidelines related to the COVID-19 health crisis. These amendments went
into effect on Tuesday, September 22.
The updated executive order:
- Explicitly caps indoor food service at 50 percent;
- Changes gathering size calculations and spacing, screening and cleaning requirements for religious facilities;
- Modifies the definition of face covering to remove plastic full face shields; and
- Includes a face covering exception for children under 18 while playing sports.
Officials are continually reviewing designations and adjusting guidance based on data and science.
3. In Virginia, we are watching Fairfax County and Loudoun County Public Schools carefully as a potential corollary to our Meaningful Opportunities for Successful Transitions (MOST) service. Both school systems remain in virtual learning-only; however, both are evaluating re-opening to hybrid models of part in-person, part virtual learning starting in/around mid-October. As you may know, our SWARM similarly contemplates hybrid re-opening models for MOST. We will continue to keep you updated.
4. There are no day programs in Montgomery County or in Northern Virginia that are open or have announced re-opening. This impacts people we support in our community living services, including group homes and in-home supports. We’ve been asked many times when homes will ‘re-open’ (of course, we never closed!) to the new normal. Until folks we support begin returning to work and their daytime supports, we are essentially in a de facto live-in model, as we have been since April. However, we are easing restrictions on visits to group homes and on leaving the houses to access the community. The community living services leadership team continues to review options and opportunities to safely ease restrictions, and we will keep people we support and families and friends updated as to specifics.
Lastly, I hope you’ll indulge me a personal observation or two.
The change of seasons comes with the transition of the Jewish year 5780 to 5781. Typically during September and October, Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, and Yom Kippur combine to mark a time of deep introspection and renewal. We reflect on what has been and recommit to renewal and what is yet to come. This year, perhaps more than any other in my lifetime, we have much on which to reflect.
The global pandemic came to our door in March, and over the six-plus months since, has forced JFGH and the community we support and of which we are so privileged to be part to radically change the way we support people. It has changed the way we think about our staff. It has challenged us to re-think our role in protecting the health and safety of people, and it has challenged the assumptions on which we have operated.
It has been incredibly hard. And yet, it has also brought us moments of indelible inspiration.
There are hard days still to come. We have no way of knowing when things will begin feeling and looking like they once did, or if we can even get back to the way things were at all. At JFGH, our promise is that we will take seriously our obligations to, first and foremost, the extraordinary people we support and their families and friends. We will continue to learn both from our successes and missteps. We will listen well and research thoroughly. We will relentlessly lean into hard choices, knowing that they are as inevitable as sunrise in the East. We will seek, as an organization—just as we do as individuals during these High Holy Days—look forward to renewal, smarter for the hard experiences and more committed to our growth and our obligations to ourselves, the magnificent people we support, our families and our community.
Shabbat shalom, chaverim. G’mar chatima tova.
Post Script: Next week, our Facebook Live will feature President of the JFGH Board of Directors, Eva Cowen! I hope you’ll make plans to join us!