The Scottville Area Senior Center plans to reopen for indoor activities on May 3, with safeguards and precautions in place due to the ongoing pandemic.

Bill Kerans, director of the center, is hopeful that this time, it will be permanent.

The center previously tried to reopen in November 2020, nearly seven months after closing due to COVID-19. But the surge in new coronavirus cases during the fall led to another closure less than two weeks later.

Though positive cases are once again on the rise again, Kerans is hopeful that things will be different this time around.

“We’re going to start with activities that can be done individually and separated, and we’re going to hold off on activities that bring people in close contact until a later date,” Kerans said. “Our goal is to be as sure as we can be that when we open, this time, it will be a permanent resumption of in-center activities.”

The center is planning to limit its indoor activities, allowing no more than 10 people in any of the three activity areas. There will be a 30-person maximum capacity for the building.

Face masks must be worn by all guests at all times, and people will be required to maintain a 6-foot distance from others.

The center will only use the rear entrance, and people will be asked to sign in, have their temperatures checked and sanitize their hands upon entry.

Guests are asked to call ahead at (231) 757-4705 to make reservations before coming for an activity or for lunch, which is also set to resume on May 3.

There is also a written agreement guests will sign, promising to follow protocols to keep other safe.

Kerans said he’s keeping a close eye on news about the virus as it unfolds. If cases continue to increase and it no longer feels possible to safely reopen the center, it could close down once again.

“We’re watching it very carefully,” Kerans said. “We opened last fall… and almost as soon as we did, we had to close due to that huge spike of cases. So we’re monitoring (case numbers) and watching the advisories from the state.”

One thing that’s changed since fall 2020 is the availability of the COVID-19 vaccines.

“Quite a few of our folks have been vaccinated, and that gives us a little more confidence that, even thought the numbers are up, we can open up on May 3 and do it safely,” said Kerans. “But, if it gets really bad, we will pull the plug.”

Kerans said he knows not everyone is comfortable with the vaccine, and he expects that there will be some unvaccinated visitors when the center reopens.

“We can’t really precisely define how many of our regular guests are among (those who have been vaccinated). I have to assume we’ll have some people who haven’t been vaccinated, so that’s why we have the safeguards like the mask and distancing requirements,” he said. “We can’t really turn people away, being a publicly funded organization… But I’d like to recommend to everyone… get that vaccine. It’s so important, especially with the upswing in cases we’ve seen recently.”

On Friday, May 7, to celebrate the reopening, Kerans said the center will host an outdoor cookout at the center’s back entrance. During the cookout, the center will raise funds for the Scottville Clown Band.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Scottville Senior Center staff has kept busy.

The center’s countywide homemaker, respite and transportation services resumed in February, and will be expanding. The staff has also been monitoring the phones, helping seniors get signed up for vaccination clinics. Food boxes have been delivered every week to seniors at their homes through the USDA’s food distribution program, and Kerans and others have been checking in on the general well-being of seniors in the area.

“Our theme throughout the pandemic has been that we’re closed but open for business. We’re still doing what we can to keep seniors connected,” Kerans said.

Ludington Senior Center

The Ludington Senior Center has also reopened in a limited capacity, according to Rayma Burgett, program coordinator.

“We’re open to small groups… but people have to call and make a reservation,” Burgett said. “We started about two weeks ago, and we’re staggering activities so we don’t have too many people in at once.”

Reservations are required, and those who visit the center also have to sign an agreement that outlines the various safety policies and guidelines. Visitors have to agree to wear a face mask at all times, and answer questions about any possible contacts with COVID-19-positive individuals. Social distancing is required, and the center is checking guests’ temperatures, requiring hand sanitizer use, and limiting the number of people per room.

Burgett said the entire building is being sanitized on a daily basis.

She said she knows cases in the area are up, but with the right protocols, she believes the center can still operate and provide its services.

“We understand the risk, but we also understand that people need to socialize,” Burgett said.

Some classes and meetings in virtual formats such as Zoom or Facebook.

Call the Ludington Senior Center at (231) 845-6841 for more information or to make a reservation.

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