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March 3rd DakotAbilities COVID-19 update

TO: All Families / Guardians

DATE: March 3, 2021

FROM: Nathan Stallinga, Executive Director

SUBJECT: Update on COVID-19

We are excited to share that second vaccinations for individuals have been completed and was very successful-96% of eligible individuals received the vaccine. The high rate of those who received the vaccine along with the county COVID-19 positivity rating falling below 10% further support our plan to move to Phase 4 of our return to normal plan beginning Monday, March 15th. This time allows the effective rate of the vaccine to increase while allowing coordination of the reopening of the Longfellow Center and Day Services.

While the health, safety and welfare of the people we support remains our top priority, we recognize the unintended consequences of prolonged physical separation and isolation on an individual’s overall health and well-being. Recognizing the critical role family and friends have in social support and quality of life.

Community activities will resume on 3/15/2021 with the following conditions:

  1. Masks will be worn by everyone while in the community, with the only exception being when they are eating; the masks can be removed to eat/drink.
  2. Large events involving large crowds will not be approved activities at this time. This includes concerts and events at the Premier Center and other large gathering venues.
  3. Hand sanitizer needs to be used regularly and after touching items in the community. We need to assist the people we support to use this while in the community as needed after public areas are touched.
  4. People that have not been vaccinated assume the risks associated with community activities if they choose to do them during the pandemic.
  5. If anyone in a home tests positive for Covid-19, community activities will be suspended for all people in the home until there is no risk for transmission to others.

Visitation Guideline Changes as of 3/15/21

  1. Pre-scheduled visits are no longer required in residential locations.
  2. When visitors arrive, staff will conduct temperature screening and ensure use of hand sanitizer. Visitor must sign the visitor log and log their temperature. If the person visiting has a temperature, no visit will occur.
  3. Visits will continue to be in designated areas of the home, and not in common areas.
  4. Visitors at Longfellow are required to enter Door A and complete a covid screening including a temperature check. Meetings will be in designated areas.
  5. Food/Drinks will be allowed during visits. It is the responsibility of the person visiting to do any food preparation and assist the person to eat if they choose to bring food to a visit.
  6. Pets can resume visits to the home only in the designated areas and with prior approval from the manager/department director

We ALL have a responsibility to make appropriate choices and to follow best practices. It is important that we remain vigilant in our efforts and continue to follow procedures throughout our facilities with guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), South Dakota Department of Health and statistical analysis.

DakotAbilities remains committed to protecting the health of individuals we support, our staff who support them and our community. We continue to monitor and adjust as appropriate noting the vulnerabilities of those we serve. While navigating this journey, we reserved the right to step back if necessary to ensure safety.

Heidi Loof, Director of Residential Services has put together a FAQ list that is included in this letter as well.

If you should have any questions, please contact your Service Coordinator or one of our Leadership Team members.

Phase 4:

Residential Services:

Essential personnel permitted and visitors to assigned areas.

Visitors/Home Visits:

Visitors are allowed within assigned areas of the residential or day locations. Home visits may occur with request for families to use extreme precautions. Individual will be required to successfully pass a screening prior to their return.


CMs are permitted to visits. Reminders should be given regarding CDC guidelines and notified that a mask is required.

Medical Services:

Medical Services will return to normal.

Day Services/Employment:

Longfellow Return to 5 days per week


Community Employment will return to normal. Supported Employment reopens dependent on Community Employer.


Virtual meetings still encouraged with in-person meetings-temp checks, masks mandatory, social distancing.


Recreational activities are permitted if the activities allow for adequate social distancing. Any activities outside of the guidelines listed above need to be approved by the Leadership Team.


Masks will be required as outlined by the CDC and as tolerated by individuals receiving services.


Screening and temperature checks will occur prior to the start of each shift and by all visitors.


Public Transportation

Public Transportation will be permitted for work purposes. Individuals should sanitize upon arriving to work site and home.



Nathan Stallinga CFRE

Executive Director

Director of Development

“Working together, we create opportunities and meaningful lives for people with disabilities”

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why does my loved one need to wear a mask if they were vaccinated?

It is unknown if a vaccinated person can spread covid-19. Additionally, the vaccination is not 100% effective, so the mask is still a safety measure recommended by the CDC.


How many people can visit at a time at the person’s home?

There is not a set number limit for this, however, the visitors will need to fit into the designated visitation area, and everyone will need to have temperatures checked prior to the visit and face masks are required.


How often can I visit?

There is no longer a limit to how often you can visit. Again, you will have to have your temperature checked at the beginning of each visit and face masks are required.


Is there a time limit for visits?

No, there is not a time limit. If your visit overlaps with meal times, you will need to work with the staff regarding when the person will be eating.


Can we go into our loved one’s bedroom if there is a different visitation area?

If your loved one has their own bedroom, then you can do visits in their bedroom. If your loved one has a roommate, you can only visit in their bedroom if the roommate agrees to go to a different area of the home during the visit. Visitation areas are also still an option if there are other areas identified in the home as a visitation area.


Why can’t I visit in the living room or dining room of the home?

We are still trying to limit exposures when possible, and this is a way to limit the exposure and continue to have visits.


Can I take my loved one out to eat, shopping, or to church again?

  1. They should be encouraged to wear a mask when in the community. Please make sure staff on duty know when they are leaving and expected to return. There could be medications or meals to plan for. Please also be mindful of where you are going and try to be in public areas during times when fewer people are around.


Can my loved one go on home visits and will they have to quarantine after a home visit or a community activity?

Yes, home visits are fine for day visits, overnights, or longer periods of time. We will no longer require a quarantine period for these activities.


Can my loved one go to the movies or to the mall?

While these are areas that people can go, we really encourage attendance during times of the day and on days of the week that are not too crowded. (i.e. avoid the mall on Saturday at noon, and the movie theatre on Friday at 7pm.)


Can I take my loved one to the Stampede Game or to the concert at the Premier Center?

We would currently discourage any large gathering events, including all activities at the Premier Center and similar venues. These events have very congested common walkways and accessible seating and elevators are often in very high-traffic areas. We will not be assisting people to this type of event yet at this time.


Can my loved one go to the fitness center?

Yes, however, masks should be worn and hands should be washed or sanitized after touching equipment used by others.


There are a lot of summer outdoor activities that have a lot of people at them (fairs, concerts, festivals, waterparks, etc.). Will our loved one be able to go to these activities and events?

We are still a few months away from summer events. We are continually evaluating our guidelines and recommendations for activities as status of the pandemic changes. We cannot4 say at this time if larger outdoor activities will be supported or discouraged due to risk.


Can the annual ISP meeting be in person again?

Teams can decide if they want these meetings to continue on zoom or if they want to meet in person. Team meetings will not happen in residential homes at this time. Team meetings at Longfellow will require all visitors to be screened, and face masks are required at Longfellow.


Can I visit my loved one at Longfellow?

Yes. You will need to enter in Door A and check in at the front desk for your temperature check and screening prior to your visit. Face masks are required at Longfellow.


Can my loved one visit other DakotAbilities residents?

Yes. If the visit occurs in the home, visitation guidelines apply and the visit should happen in designated areas.


What is the plan if my loved one or their housemate tests positive?
If someone in a home tests positive, all of the people living in the home will have to quarantine until the positive person is cleared by the department of health. No activities or visits will happen during that time and they will not go to Longfellow.


If someone in an apartment tests positive, that person and any roommates will have to quarantine until cleared by the department of health. No activities or visits will happen during that time and they will not go to Longfellow.


What if a visitor or staff member tests positive and they were contagious during their visit or work hours?

This will be considered a close contact and you will be made aware that your loved one had a close contact. They will be monitored for symptoms, but visits, activities, and day services will continue as normal.


Can I take my loved one to their medical appointments?

Yes. Please ensure our medical services department is aware of the appointment and gets any necessary paperwork following the appointment.


Can my loved one travel out of town?

Yes. We would prefer they not go to any large, populated events while gone, (i.e. concerts, sporting events in arenas, etc.) but travel out of town is okay.

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