Reynoldsburg Senior Citizen Center won't fully reopen until 2021

Kelley Youman
ThisWeek
Judy Doran, senior center manager, is shown outside the Reynoldsburg Senior Citizens Center on Oct. 9. Preparations continue for reopening  the facility amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Although the facility won't fully reopen until 2021, the staff has found alternative ways to engage with seniors through Zoom conference calls and drive-thru programs.

With fitness classes taught through Zoom and drive-by “bookings,” Senior Citizens of Reynoldsburg (SCOR) has found creative ways to keep members engaged during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

The center, 1520 Davidson Drive, has been closed since mid-March. 

Although Gov. Mike DeWine issued an order last month allowing senior centers to reopen, it requires facilities to implement COVID-19 testing for participants as part of the responsible reopening plan.  

Therefore, SCOR will not fully reopen until 2021, officials said. 

“While I would love to reopen the senior center today, the restrictions and requirements the state of Ohio are asking for would present multiple problems for the city, but most importantly are the concerns about the safety of our senior citizens,” Mayor Joe Begeny said.  

“We are working with the state to create a plan that is workable for our staff, and most importantly keeps our seniors safe. Hopefully we will be able to open after the first of the year. Access to the tests is a concern, but the biggest question we have is the administration of the tests on staff and potentially our seniors themselves. We are also looking at different options like HVAC air scrubbers (and) ionizing to keep our center clean for when our seniors do return.” 

SCOR staffers have found ways to bring the center’s services to seniors in the comfort of their own homes.  

Judy Doran demonstrates a new temperature screening kiosk, with facial recognition technology, installed at the Reynoldsburg Senior Citizens Center. Earlier this month, SCOR started offering art classes on Mondays and Fridays, with a limit of six participants. Masks are required, and all visitors are asked COVID-related questions and have their temperatures recorded.

“We are so fortunate to have the ability to do virtual programming,” said Judy Doran, SCOR manager. “Our exercise programs never missed a beat – the classes began via Zoom shortly after the shutdown. Zoom has also been used for our Crafting with Cookie class, Reynoldsburg Senior Citizen Association Board meetings and the ’Burg Bookies book club. 

“In order to keep in touch with our members, we send a weekly robocall and continue to send our bimonthly newsletters. For a more personal touch, we call every member on their birthday.” 

The center had drive-thru events this summer where books, puzzles and box lunches were distributed from the parking lot. Another drive-thru lunch pickup is scheduled Oct. 29.  

“Our senior center staff is amazing, and they are working every day to give our seniors as many options as we can. I was even lucky enough to help pass out some lunches to our seniors in September,” Begeny said. 

Although the center remains largely closed, a few in-person offerings have returned with small capacity and a requirement to register beforehand.   

Earlier this month, SCOR started offering art classes on Mondays and Fridays, with a limit of six participants to accommodate social distancing. Masks are required and all visitors are asked COVID-related questions and have their temperatures recorded, Doran said.   

Other events, like day trips in the center’s 44-passenger bus – the SCOR Scooter – are on hold, she said.       

The center also has spent the summer stockpiling personal protective equipment (PPE), hand sanitizer and touchless thermometers, Doran said. 

“On a positive note, the members will be pleased with the new and improved Davidson Drive. While they have been at home, the road has been revamped, repaved and now includes a turn lane into the senior center parking lot,” she said.  

The city this summer spent $1.7 million to repave the half-mile stretch of Davidson Drive between East Main Street and Haft Drive, installing a pedestrian path and lighting. The work also included paving the parking lot at Huber Park. 

Founded in 1971, SCOR has more than 1,500 members. Doran said she and the SCOR staff are looking forward to welcoming their members back.  

“When we are able to fully open and return to normal, we are most looking forward to welcoming our members back with open arms,” she said. “The heart of our center is to fulfill our adult communities’ need for socialization, health and wellness. We have sorely missed our friends during this unfortunate break in service.” 

For information on SCOR and its offerings, call (614) 866-5890. 

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