Update on COVID-19

March 12, 2020 | Programs

Dear VIA Families and Staff:

I’m writing to keep you updated on our planning in response to COVID-19. The situation is obviously evolving rapidly, but we are actively implementing, evaluating, and updating our cleaning and hygiene procedures for ensuring the safety of everyone we work with.  And we’re also actively developing contingency plans if the situation worsens in the coming weeks.

Even with no diagnosed cases in our area, we recognize that schools and organizations are beginning to make individual decisions to cancel events or suspend operations or convert to distance learning. However, given the nature of our clients’ needs, distance learning is not a viable option for service delivery.  Also given our client’s needs, we have an imperative to continue services as long as possible.  Clearly the situation is very volatile, but it is our intention to do everything we can to continue services for our families as long as it is safe to do so.

The Department of Health is continuing to emphasize that common sense approaches are the best way to limit the spread of the virus. To that end, VIA is implementing the following:

Detailed plans are in place at each facility for regular deep cleaning and disinfecting – with intensive focus on high use areas

  • Handwashing and cough/sneeze hygiene protocols enforced for all staff and students
  • STRICT enforcement of students and staff staying home when sick. If cases start to appear in our region, we may implement fever screening for all students and staff.
  • We are suspending James C Hormel School activities (e.g. music, art) that bring classrooms together in larger groups.
  • Shift PE activities away from touching equipment and toward free-standing and outdoor activities.
  • No large group field trips.  Evaluate each small group community activity on case by case basis.  Carry disinfectants along when going into the community
  • We are in constant conversation with school district partners and the Health Department about implementing recommendations and best practices.
  • Active planning for possible upcoming closures of public facilities, schools, and of VIA.

Here are the things we ask of our families and staff:

This is clearly a stressful time for all of us, with a great deal of concern for ourselves and our loved ones. VIA staff is performing extraordinarily well, and the feeling around our programs is good and upbeat.  The good news is that there is learning and development happening here every day, despite the stressors.  There’s no predicting how this situation will continue to develop, but as a human services organization with an immense amount of expertise and commitment, I have no doubt that we will meet the challenges of the coming months with strength and compassion and resilience.


Ethan Long