ADULT LEARNING SERVICES AT SEARCH TAKE A STEP FORWARD – SERVICES RESUME ON A LIMITED BASIS FOR FIRST TIME SINCE MARCH
After six months of being completely shut down, Search Inc. Adult Learning Program (ALP) sites, based in Mt. Prospect, Evanston and Lincoln Square, have resumed offering day services on a very limited basis. Planet Access Company Warehouse, our social enterprise in Des Plaines, has also resumed offering paid-work opportunities, but at a greatly reduced scale. Despite its limited nature, we are excited to begin down the path of offering critical adult learning supports during this complicated, challenging time.
Because of the continued spread of the coronavirus in Illinois communities, we are taking a slow, cautious approach as we continue to prioritize the health and safety of the individuals we serve above all else. If just one person gets sick as a result of attending one of our ALP sites, it would be one person too many. That is why prior to participating in programming, individuals participate in an assessment that identifies risks, and establishes realistic strategies for mitigating those risks.
Individuals and staff must comply with strict safety and risk mitigation procedures during program hours. Our COVID precautions include temperature checks, masking, social distancing and a limit on the number of individuals participating in program activities onsite. For example, our pre-COVID our Mt. Prospect ALP site served 200+ individuals daily. Today, no more than 12 - 16 individuals max are on site at any given time.
Our Lincoln Square and Mt. Prospect ALP sites are being used as drop-in locations, where small groups of our residents can attend program sessions of 90 minutes to two hours max. Groups consist of individuals from the same home. Program sessions are staggered so that no more than two small groups are onsite at one time.
A small handful of individuals from the community have returned to our Ignite site in Evanston where they participate in program activities twice a week. Planet Access Company Warehouse is providing paid-work opportunities for as many as 5 individuals per day, in addition to 4 other individuals permanently employed at PAC. Altogether, approximately 40 individuals (30 residents and 10 from the community) are participating in limited programming at our ALP sites and PAC Warehouse location. We continue to evaluate our ability to broaden participation at all our ALP sites and will communicate program opportunities in an ongoing way.
While on site, individuals are enjoying participating in a variety of specialized offerings including Visibility Arts, paid-work opportunities, horticulture, crafting and curriculum-based learning experiences.
Planning continues on our initiative to launch a Virtual Day Service (VDS) program. On October 1st, DHS announced that they have made VDS a billable service offering. We have been offering virtual experiences to our residents and a handful of community participants every day in conjunction with our in-home day services for months now. We are excited about the potential benefit of VDS for the individuals we serve who, because of health concerns, prefer not to go to a site but who can participate in remote programming.
So far, so good. Our progress in regaining some normalcy since late September has been gradual, but all the extra planning and precautions have paid off. We are thrilled to report that we have experienced no exposures or outbreaks so far. But, even though we have had early success in a partial resumption of our Adult Learning services, we cannot forget that COVID is still a present risk. We must and we will remain vigilant as we move forward. Thank you for your patience and understanding while we navigating this difficult, unknown time.