COVID-19 UPDATE: January 21, 2021

Dear Cantalician Community:

I hope this finds everyone healthy and safe as we enter the New Year. Unfortunately, 2021 is already testing our ability to be resilient during this unprecedented time in history. We start the year with sad news as our school team mourns the loss of one of our students who tragically lost their life and the life of two of their family members this week. Be assured that Cantalician Center for Learning (CCL) will do whatever it can to provide resources and assistance to the family as well as our staff and students who knew him. If 2020 has taught us anything, it's to persevere during times of hardship.  

I want to welcome our new Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Robert Martin to the CCL Team. With the appointment of a new CFO and hard work from the finance and leadership team, we were able to get our 2021 budget completed and approved by the board. Based on the results of the budget process, we have made the decision to discontinue providing Early Childhood Community Services (Early Intervention Evaluations and Related Services) due to inadequate reimbursement from Erie and Niagara County. Sadly, the wisest fiscal decision causes a reduction of services. We are no longer accepting new cases and plan to honor all of the commitments made to anyone receiving services through April 2, 2021. I'd like to take this time to thank Mary Albert, Coordinator of Early Childhood Community Services and her team of dedicated professionals for delivering exceptional services.

On a more positive note, CCL continues to provide children and adults with much-needed services even as the County remains designated as an "Orange Zone." The following is an update for each department:

Education Services

As mandated by New York State in order to remain open for hybrid learning, our school nurses were trained to administer COVID-19 tests before the holiday and began testing students, teachers, therapists, and support staff this month. Our positivity rate continues to remain below the suggested average for remaining open. We will continue to assess the numbers on a weekly basis and will report any cases as required by the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). Effective February 1, 2021, we are introducing the use of new entry and exit procedures for visitors through a new main office and we will begin using the Raptor Visitor Management System. The system scans all U.S. government-issued drivers and non-drivers identification cards to ensure that sex offenders, violators of law, people with retraining orders, etc. are not permitted from entering our building. We are excited to increase the safety and security for everyone at Cantalician. More details regarding the new main office and Raptor System will be sent out this week.

Day Habilitation Services

Under the guidance offered through the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), our Certified Day Habilitation Services at 2039 George Urban Boulevard, Depew, NY have been suspended until the county moves back to a "Yellow Zone." Staff members are working to support people who receive services through remote opportunities. At this time, Day Habilitation Services Without Walls is able to continue to operate in-person, but must limit its outings in the community (Feed More of WNY and Drive-Thru/Curbside) and only 10 people are allowed in a group at a time.

Employment Services

Since the start of the pandemic, Team DLS has continued to work hard to ensure that services are being provided and the needs of its customer base are fully met. Like Day Hab, people receiving support through our OPWDD funded Employment Services are also being limited to a 10 person group maximum with many also receiving job exploration and skill building opportunities remotely until Erie County returns to a "Yellow Zone" or better.

Daycare Services

Our Daycare currently remains open to our staff members and to families/caregivers in the community that utilize this service. At this time, these Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) services are not impacted by the "Orange Zone" designation for the county.

Safety

Our Covid-19 Response Team and Safety Committee continues to hold regularly scheduled 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.

Lastly, some very exciting news! CCL's staff members are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in phases 1A and 1B of New York State's Vaccination Program. Details on how to schedule an appointment have been rolled out through Human Resources. If you are on the fence about getting the vaccine, check out a former Cantalician parent who is also the Medical Director at Jericho Road's East Side Clinic who participated in a COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall about the safety of the vaccine. Go to https://youtu.be/iTV1Q-4-rSU or find the video that has been shared on our social media pages. I know this really helped me make a more informed decision.

Please continue to monitor your email for updated information regarding our services. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to [email protected]

Thank you all for remaining positive and understanding during these very difficult times. I look forward to a day where COVID-19 doesn't consume our thoughts and conversations.

All the best,

Anne Spisiak

Executive Director




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