COVID-19 UPDATE: July 24, 2020

Dear Cantalician Community:

I hope this finds you well during this very stressful time. I take a great deal of comfort and pride in knowing that the staff at Cantalician Center for Learning continue to innovate and adapt to the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Our top priority is and always will be the health, well-being, and safety of our students, individuals, and staff. We truly appreciate your hard work, dedication, and patience as we continue to carry out our mission of creating opportunities for success by offering meaningful and supportive services under the most trying of circumstances. It's very important for everyone in the agency to have an awareness of what all departments are doing. Please take the time to read this in its entirety. 

  • Our COVID-19 Response Team continues to hold weekly meetings to assess the needs of our entire organization and pays very close attention to State, Federal, and County regulations and how they guide our plans for reopening each service area of our organization.

  • Our Facilities Team is working non-stop to clean, scrub, and sanitize our school building, 2039 Day Habilitation Services location, as well as continue best practices for cleaning at our Diversified Labor Solutions (DLS) location at Tri-Main Center.

  • The DLS Team is working tirelessly to ensure the needs of its essential customer base are met since the start of the Pandemic. Each week, we are bringing back more of its labor force by following the guidance from the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).

  • This week, our Day Habilitation Services began allowing in-person services while closely following OPWDD guidance. People are returning in "waves" to ensure that we are prepared to resume operations in the safest manner possible. Our Community Integration Planners (CIPs) are reaching out to everyone to communicate when they will be returning in-person. Remote services will continue for those that have decided to remain at home and receive services virtually.

  • Unfortunately, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has ended "retainer day payments" to our Community Prevocational and Day Habilitation Services this week. This has significant fiscal impact on our organization and could eventually lead to a loss of services. Now more than ever is the time to help us in our advocacy efforts by calling or emailing Governor Cuomo's office to urge him to extend our retainer day funding immediately. Click here to act now! 

  • We have finally received official guidance from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), New York State Education Department (NYSED), and Governor Cuomo containing details regarding the reopening of schools. Plans must be submitted to NYSED and posted on our website for your viewing no later than July 31, 2020. A work group comprised of administration, families, self-advocates, instructional staff, facilities and the safety committee has been assembled and working meetings to develop the plan begin next week. At this time, we do not have a date when students return to the school building for in-person services and are awaiting the Governor's announcement in August.

  • Our School Age and Preschool instructional staff are currently working very hard to produce Distance Learning lessons as well as, prepare our classrooms and therapy spaces to comply with social distancing mandates. Getting the school building ready for the return to in-person services for students when that date is announced is a daunting task. Thank you to everyone involved in assisting us in achieving that goal.

  • Our Early Childhood Community Services (ECCS) continues to operate utilizing Telehealth Services. We are currently awaiting guidance from the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) on best practices to resume those services in-person. We will be sure to notify families/caregivers of ECCS guidance as soon as it becomes available.

  • Daycare is currently open. "Wave 1" which includes children of Cantalician Center staff members. "Wave 2" will allow children from the "community" to return with that date yet to be determined. We appreciate your patience as we work to make the arrangements necessary to keep our littlest participants safe. We will notify everyone when services can resume entirely.

  • Our Safety Committee continues to ensure we are complying with all Center for Disease Control (CDC), NYSDOH, ECDOH, NYSED, and OPWDD guidance. Policies and procedure have been put into practice to ensure we are doing everything possible to "stop the spread." New policies on all staff and contractors wearing a mask at all times and everyone receiving a health screening before entering our locations have been put in place. We continue to work with our partners in local government and our vendors to acquire the sought after protective equipment (PPE) that we need.

As always, we ask that you continue to monitor your email, our website, our social media, and local news stations pages for any updated information regarding Cantalician. If you have any questions or suggestions for safety and best practices for our organization to operate during COVID-19, please feel free to reach out to [email protected].

Thank you again for your patience, understanding, and support! I know this is not easy. Working together and supporting all efforts will make it possible.

Anne Spisiak

Executive Director, Cantalician Center for Learning


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