The Pickerington Senior Center will not reopen Sept. 21, when it would be permitted by Gov. Mike DeWine to do so, and it is expected to remain closed indefinitely.
Pickerington Senior Center board president Lin Connell said members of the board of trustees voted 6-0 on Sept. 8 to keep the facility at 150 Hereford Drive closed for the foreseeable future because of public health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s the age issue,” Connell said. “Everybody in the place has underlying conditions.”
The center has been closed since March 20, when DeWine announced a statewide executive order to close all community senior centers and facilities providing older adult day care services.
The governor announced Aug. 20 those facilities would be permitted to reopen but under a series of guidelines that included:
* Opening with a limited capacity based on safe social distancing.
* Limiting entry to the facility to those who are necessary for the safe operation of the program.
* Screening all participants and staff and keeping of a daily log.
* Conducting baseline and repeat testing of staff and participants.
* Requiring all staff and participants to wear face coverings with limited exceptions.
* Using cohorting of participants when possible and altering schedules to reduce contact.
* Implementing CDC guidance for cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing.
“By delaying the opening until Sept. 21, we are providing time for each center to properly prepare based on the order's guidelines," DeWine said Aug. 20. "Each center should consider a variety of factors when determining its ability to reopen, including the case status in the surrounding community."
According to Pickerington Senior Center director Nancy Lee, the center has two full-time employees and one part-time staff member.
She said it has more than 800 members.
Connell said members come from Pickerington and many surrounding communities, including Groveport, Lancaster and Reynoldsburg.
He said nearly 20 members are 90 years old or older, and “a lot are in their 80s.”
“They want you to check people’s temperatures when they come in and ask (coronavirus) questions,” Connell said. “We just don’t have the staff to handle all of that.
“We just are not capable of disinfecting like they want and doing everything they want.”
Connell said board members don’t know when the center could reopen.
He hopes it might be by Jan. 1, 2021, but noted the building likely will remain closed until there’s a sustained drop-off in coronavirus cases or a vaccine is available to the general public.
“We’d like to get it open as soon as possible,” he said. “It’s just been an unfortunate situation and everybody has cabin fever and wants to get over here.
“Until things get a little bit better and we feel we are following these guidelines and keeping everybody safe, we just can’t reopen.”
According to Lee, the center will be open Election Day, Nov. 3, for voting. It will be staffed by Fairfield County Board of Elections poll workers.