Greetings Helena Community,
As with the rest of the world, The Helena Family YMCA is closely monitoring the on-going developments related to Covid-19. First and foremost, our number one priority is the safety and well-being of our Members, our Youth, our Staff, and the communities in which we offer programs. We are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lewis & Clark County Public Health, St. Peter’s Health, Y-USA, and others. We encourage you to follow CDC updates as they become available here.
Currently, we are continuing normal business operations and preparing for great spring programs and summer camp experiences for everyone. We are planning to ensure that all will go according to plan but we will be monitoring local and national health departments closely to ensure we are exceeding all proper safety protocols.
We understand each YMCA program is different and requires individual attention when deciding whether or not it is safe to run programs. We ask that you reach out to us as questions or concerns arise in your family and that we partner together when deciding whether or not it is safe to hold programs and we promise to keep you informed of our operations as well. Pending decisions regarding the safety of the community, the YMCA and all of our programming will remain open unless we cannot meet staffing or participant minimums for now. This is subject to change.
What we are doing at the Helena Family YMCA to protect everyone (community & staff):
· We will work hard to communicate through all means possible (person-to-person, email, video, social media, and signage) to all staff, volunteers, and members.
· We posted signs advising best practices regarding handwashing, cough covering, and staying home when you don’t feel well
· Staff have been directed to stay home when they don’t feel well or if they feel coming to work puts them at risk
· Formed a Response Team that will begin to connect by phone every day to adjust plans and deal with the fluid situation
· We took additional steps to improve our cleaning efforts throughout the facility to include all of our equipment
o Working with our suppliers to improve the supplies and tools we use to ensure we have the best products available
o Ensuring that fitness instructors are thoroughly cleaning after each class
· Remaining in contact with Lewis and Clark County Public Health, St. Peter’s Health and Y-USA to ensure we are diligent and aware of best practices from across the country
To help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, we encourage participants, staff and families to follow these important tips:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw it in the trash can. If a tissue is not available, sneeze into the inside of your elbow
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- All adults and children should stay home when sick. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Individuals with chronic health issues and/or individuals experiencing severe symptoms should be evaluated by a medical professional
- Get a flu shot to protects yourself and others from the flu, which has similar symptoms to Covid-19
For our volunteers, staff, and counselors, we will be instituting new practices that include:
- Providing waivers that parents must sign at each program stating their child has not been sick over the past two weeks and that their family has not knowingly been in contact with anyone affected by Covid-19. We will begin this process at programs starting next week
- Continuing to encourage consistent hand washing and good hygiene practices at the YMCA and across all programs
- Encouraging participants show good sportsmanship by clapping or cheering instead of handshakes, high fives or fist bumps.
- Advising that water bottles NOT be shared.
- Sanitizing program equipment after each program.
- Reminding any person bringing food or drinks to a program, that they should discard all items themselves.
- Reminding all participants that they should carry and use hand sanitizer any time handwashing stations are not available.
In conjunction with medical professionals, we will establish an updated communicable disease/outbreak plan that will address prevention, intervention, communication with parents and facilities, and a plan in case the crisis escalates over the next several months. We will continually update our procedures as this evolves and more information becomes available.
We look forward to keeping the lines of communication open and ask that you reach out to us if you have any questions.
CDC RELEASES STATEMENT ON COVID-19 & TREATED RECREATIONAL WATER VENUES
For the past few weeks, the Association of Aquatic Professionals has been keeping a close eye on the COVID-19 outbreak and how it’s impacting our global membership. We’ve heard from many of you with questions about how this virus might affect your own operations, especially in relation to treated pool water. Today, we have received clarification on this question from our partners with the CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch:
Can the COVID-19 virus spread through pools and hot tubs?
There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.
We will continue to work on gathering additional information that might be helpful to you as you prepare to manage and mitigate the spread of the virus in your local community. Our first priority is to provide you with resources that help you keep your guests and team members safe and healthy. Please look for additional Member Alerts from us in the coming days.
The WWA has created a Hot Topics page on COVID-19 on Wateparks.org. Here, you will find links to trusted resources and information provided by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control, including:
· General information on COVID-19, how it spreads and prevention information
· Travel advice
· Latest news and numbers on the outbreak
· And more
David I. Oclander
Helena Family YMCA