PATH Intl. Evolving Response Recommendations for COVID19
Dear PATH Intl. Members and Center Representatives,

In our last communication , we listed ways to take preventative action regarding COVID19. As the situation has continued to evolve, social distancing, school closures and event cancellations have become the norm. What should you do?

  • Many PATH Intl. centers have cancelled programs. This is something every center should contemplate, especially considering the populations you serve. How long you close depends on what your county and state public health is recommending as well as the school closures in your area.

  • Include your board and other major stakeholders (including donors) in your discussion/decision to temporarily halt programming.

  • Determine your refund policy. Having a flexible policy in these tough times is important. However, it’s just as important to also communicate the option to participants of donating their fee in order to support the ongoing costs of the center–such as feeding and caring for the horses.

  • If you must cancel a major fundraiser, provide the option of direct donations instead. Here is some suggested language that you are welcome to use and edit: “In order to be mindful of the CDC recommendation to cancel any gathering of 50 or more, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our major fundraiser. This fundraiser typically brings in X% of our income to support our programs that change lives. We ask that you please take a moment, remember what it felt like the last time you saw and heard the direct impact our programs have or the last time you were at our fundraiser and you couldn’t wait to bring out your checkbook. Then consider donating directly to X TRC to ensure that programming will continue when we are on the other side of COVID 19. Thank you for your consideration.”

This type of strategy is difficult, but don’t feel for a minute that you’re on your own. We are here to support you as are your colleagues all around the country. One great resource is the region Facebook pages. There are many pertinent conversation threads already happening. 

Your PATH Intl. leadership team has been meeting daily to assess the COVID19 situation that seems to be changing by the minute. In those discussions we assess the unfolding news and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and our local government. We decide on the measures that might need to be taken for the safety of staff and members. At the time of this mailing, our office has two staff members who have requested to work from home for the immediate near future and one who we’ve asked to work remotely due to recent travels. Fortunately, we have a remote work system in place, so we’re able to accommodate the requests. In addition, the impact of school closures and today’s announcement that groups of 50+ individuals are prevented from gathering prompted the necessity to reschedule several upcoming PATH Intl. Regional Conferences as well as continue to work with host centers on upcoming workshops, certifications and site visits.
I've had several conversations with center executive directors who have made the tough decision to close for the short term. In their decision-making process, they had involved not just staff leadership but also from the beginning included stakeholders and their boards in the decisions. PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center (PAC) Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center’s Executive Director, Michelle Bruhn said, “The decision to close our center during the outbreak was not easy; knowing many of our participants rely on our services for their mental, emotional, physical and social wellbeing. After much consideration, advisement and recommendation from our local county public health center, we are choosing to suspend all participant activities that do not allow us to maintain the six foot social distancing recommendation by the CDC to avoid getting the coronavirus for the safety health and lives of our at risk populations, participants, volunteers, staff and the community. We will continue to monitor the outbreak, increase sanitation efforts and follow the guidelines of the local public health department.”

It is our sincere wish that whichever path is best for your center in the coming weeks, we will all get through this together. Thank you to the centers sharing their situations on social media. Our community is strong and in that, we hope you will find some comfort. 

All the best, 
Kathy Alm
Chief Executive Officer
Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International