1391 Martine Ave. Scotch Plains, NJ 07076
Ph: 908-889-8800

COVID-19 and the JCC Re-Opening

JUNE 12, 2020 
 
Dear JCC Community,
 
A lot has happened in the two weeks since our last re-opening update. Last Friday, Governor Murphy announced timelines for the re-opening of child care (June 15), organized non-contact sports (June 22) and youth camps (July 6). Restrictions on outdoor gatherings are being lifted. They just increased from 25 to 100; on June 22 the number will increase to 250 and up to 500 on July 5. Restrictions on indoor gatherings are likewise lifting – up from 10 to now 50 people or 25% of a building’s capacity, whichever is lower (with face coverings and social distancing still required). 
 
With this easing of the mandated quarantine, we are planning for a phased, thoughtful and safe re-opening of the JCC, following all CDC, OSHA and Board of Health guidelines – and we couldn’t be more excited!
 
Virtual Annual Meeting
Before we share all those details, we want to invite you to our Virtual Annual Meeting this coming Monday, June 15 at 8:00 p.m. You can join us from your living room (or any other room in your house)!  You will not want to miss it. Hear from us about the impact of the current crisis on our JCC, our response and how we will come through this together. (Early Childhood parents, we're also previewing the Celebration of Learning video!)  Click here to register. Registration is required. 
 
Now for the re-opening details…
 
Fitness and Wellness
Last week we launched outdoor fitness group classes and personal training. It’s off to a great start! Click here for updates and schedules and to reserve your spot. Any questions? Contact Jenny Siegel at jsiegel@jccnj.org. It’s been really great to see our members back at the JCC – even if it is just outdoors!
 
Virtual Fitness classes will continue for now. Click here for Virtual JCC to take advantage of all of our fitness offerings!  On July 1, we will be launching our 62-day fitness challenge. Stay in shape all summer...details coming soon!
 
As for the Fitness Center, the J-Ride Indoor Cycling studio and gymnasium, we hope to know more soon about when we can begin to re-open those indoor spaces. Both our fitness and operations staff are up-to-date on all the existing guidelines and paying very close attention to the emerging ones to ensure safe and compliant operations. Stay tuned for specific protocols and procedures once we are given the go-ahead to open.
 
Aquatics
With guidance from the state and our local Board of Health, we are planning to open our outdoor pools for summer camp which begins mid-July. As for pool access for the wider membership, we also plan to open mid-July (date TBD) for weekend morning lap swimming only and then family swim and lap swimming for the remainder of the day. Families and lap swimmers will need to reserve their spots ahead of time. We will send out a separate communication with specific times, dates, scheduling information and new protocols/ procedures by the end of this month. We are still awaiting guidance on indoor pool usage.
 
Camp Yachad
We are beyond excited to report that summer 2020 will begin on July 13! We will be offering two 3-week sessions and a 6-week option as well. The summer 2020 playbook has recently been shared with our Camp Yachad families with details about camp activities, health and safety protocols and other camp procedures. While camp will look and feel very different this summer, our camp leadership has done an extremely courageous and thoughtful job of planning a camp program which will be fun and fulfilling while following all of the required health safety guidelines. Yachad ROCKS!
  
Infant and Toddler Care
With permission to open our child care programs, we recently polled our Infant and Toddler program families to ascertain interest in a modified summer program. We are awaiting responses to see if running the program will be feasible. If so, it would begin on July 6. We hope to see our adorable babies back at the JCC soon – we miss them!
 
Senior Adults
We still don’t have a timeline for re-opening this program, and so we’ve decided that we will continue with virtual programming for our seniors through at least July 23. That would leave three more summer weeks to potentially run an in-person summer program at Congregation Beth Israel (where our Senior Adult program typically runs during the summer). We will continue to monitor this timeline. Most importantly, we’re continuing to stay connected with our seniors, albeit at a distance.
 
Café and Federation Great Room
As we get further guidance from our local Board of Health, we will let everyone know about a timeline for the re-opening of these spaces.
 
New Health and Safety Procedures
Please know that the overall JCC will abide by all the new recommended health and safety guidelines. Our operations staff is working to get everything in place for our re-opening. This includes appropriate PPE for our staff, updated sanitization procedures and products, building traffic, temperature gauges, etc. Regardless of the phased re-opening dates that we will get from government authorities, please be assured that we will only re-open when we believe we are implementing all health and safety procedures to the best of our ability. Please click here for some specific details on the steps we have taken to-date. Once we have a better understanding of the JCC building re-opening timeline, we are hoping to share a virtual walk-through video with you to ensure that you know what to expect the first time you come back to the J!
 
Thank you for your continued support and understanding and for being a part of this beautiful, connected community. As always, please don't hesitate to reach out with any needs or questions.
 
L'Shalom (In Peace),
Mike Goldstein, Executive Director and Stefani Klaskow, President 
 
MAY 29, 2020 
Dear JCC Community,
 
Two weeks ago, we sent you our last update outlining the guiding principles for our eventual JCC re-opening. Two weeks ago, we were hoping to know more by the end of this month about our timeline for restarting programs and opening Camp Yachad. New Jersey has taken a proactive approach to limiting the spread of COVID-19, and we are grateful for this public health leadership. Unfortunately, we don’t have much more information today – at the end of May - from our state or local government authorities than we did two weeks ago. But we promised to communicate with you frequently, so here is what we can tell you now.
 
Fitness and Wellness
Last Friday, Governor Murphy announced that outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people are allowed. We are so pleased that this includes outdoor fitness classes. In the coming days, you will be hearing about plans to introduce outdoor group fitness classes and personal training. The plan is to hold these on our campsite and in our parking lot areas – areas that allow us to safely maintain proper social distancing. As we will need to control the number of participants, pre-registration will be required (more on how to pre-register coming). Initial health screenings and signed waivers will also be required prior to participation. While we will be launching this with an abundance of caution, we are very excited to get it going! 
 
Virtual Fitness classes will continue for the time being. Please click here for Virtual JCC to take advantage of a wide array of fitness offerings!
 
As for the Fitness Center, the J-Ride Indoor Cycling studio and Gymnasium, we believe we will and hope to know more about a timeline for re-opening soon. Both our fitness and operations staff are up-to-date on all the existing guidelines and paying close attention to the emerging ones to ensure safe and compliant operations. Stay tuned for specific protocols and procedures once we are given the go-ahead to open.
 
Aquatics
We are very hopeful that we will be able to open our pools this summer; however, we do not have any guidance from our local Board of Health, who will be the deciding authority. Our aquatics team is also working alongside our operations team to develop protocols and procedures in our pool areas so that when we are allowed, we will be able to re-open as quickly as possible.
 
Camp Yachad
Summer 2020 is the Big Question on many people's minds! While there is still no definitive information from governing authorities, we have let our camp families know that we are committed to opening this summer and hope to do so on Monday, July 13. Our camp leadership team has been working tirelessly over the past weeks to ensure that we will be able to offer a safe, fun and fulfilling summer. Based on American Camp Association (ACA) guidelines and their consultants, they have been putting plans in place for a methodical and thoughtful camp launch.
 
Recently, our camp families received our initial plans for this summer. Camp Yachad will certainly look and feel differently as we follow the necessary guidelines and best practices for social distancing, modified programs, health screening and daily sanitization. We will roll out our final plans and pricing by mid-June so that every family has plenty of time to make the best decision about camp that is right for their family.
 
Infant and Toddler Care
As in many other cases, we continue to wait for governmental guidance on opening our infant and toddler programs this summer. Our early childhood staff also along with operations are paying close attention to guidance around appropriate group sizes, cleaning and disinfecting and health screening. Similar to camp, we will monitor the situation and stay in close contact with our families throughout this time.
 
Senior Adults
As with camp, we don't yet have guidance on when we can open our senior adult summer program which is held down the street from the JCC at Congregation Beth Israel (CBI). We have worked with our friends at CBI to figure out a way to run this program safely, and as soon as we are able to announce a start date for this program, we will.  
 
Café and Federation Great Room
We believe that when we re-open the JCC initially, it will be limited to specific program usage (camp, infant/toddler care, fitness, aquatics), and not for general communal access to places like our café and the new Federation Great Room space (which was poised to open back in March). As we get further guidance from our local Board of Health, we will let everyone know about a timeline for the re-opening of these spaces.
 
New Health and Safety Procedures
Please know that the overall JCC will abide by all the new recommended health and safety guidelines. Our operations staff is working to get everything in place for our re-opening. This includes appropriate PPE for our staff, updated sanitization procedures and products, building traffic, temperature gauges, etc. Regardless of the phased re-opening dates that we will get from government authorities, please be assured that we will only re-open when we believe we are implementing all health and safety procedures to the best of our ability. Please click here for some specific details on the steps we have taken to-date. In the next couple of weeks, we are hoping to share a virtual walk-through video with you to ensure that you know what to expect the first time you come back to the J!
 
We understand how frustrating it is to not know exactly how and when our beloved JCC will open back up. Our collective patience is wearing thin, and the unforeseen length of this quarantine has taken its toll on each of us in different ways. While some have been affected more than others, this pandemic has left none of us untouched. We wish you continued strength and patience – we are with you. Our professional and lay leaders are doing everything to make sure that we make smart choices for the JCC, to ensure it is here safely and securely for all of us as we get back to our cherished communal way of life. 
 
Thank you for your continued support and understanding, and for being a part of this beautiful community. As always, please don't hesitate to reach out with any needs or questions.
 
L'Shalom (In Peace),
Mike Goldstein, Executive Director and Stefani Klaskow, President
 
MAY 14, 2020
 
Dear JCC Community,
 
I'm writing this from my JCC office, as I’ve been dropping in periodically to check on our building. Our JCC “town square” is currently quiet, calm and empty. I am really missing the energy and bustle that is such a huge part of our vibrant center, and I am sure you all are too. But it's just our building that is quiet during these times. Our JCC continues to be very busy in the virtual space – keeping our community socially, emotionally, recreationally and intellectually connected through our virtual programming and outreach efforts. 
 
I know that there is no substitute for the “real thing,” and I am certain that you are all wondering when our JCC will re-open. The honest answer is "I don’t know." I wish I knew, but I don't. However, I can promise you this – I will continue to communicate with you regularly regarding our plans and timeline. And when we do open our doors again, it will be done with the utmost thoughtfulness and safety.  
 
Here are the key components of our decision-making process which our board and staff leadership will use to guide us over the coming weeks:
 
Governmental Authority and Expert Leadership
We are following emerging guidelines for safe and phased re-opening which are coming from various governmental sources such as the CDC and Governor Murphy’s office. (Currently the State of Emergency in New Jersey is in effect through at least June 5 with no set date about lifting social distancing guidelines). Additionally, we are relying on information and best practices shared by partner organizations such as JCC Association, Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest and Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), American Camping Association, Foundation for Jewish Camps and Redwoods Insurance Group. Any decision to re-open will be made according to the guidelines and recommendations for social distancing, health screening and daily sanitization protocols that these organizations are recommending.
 
People and Places
I recently formed a task force of JCC program and operations staff who are busy exploring, researching and drafting re-open plans for their respective areas. This takes into consideration the diverse and unique nature and needs of the various groups and populations the JCC serves – from our infants, toddlers, preschoolers and campers to our fitness and aquatics enthusiasts and senior adults. 
 
Sustainability
Our decision to re-open will also be informed by the importance of making sure that our 114-year-old organization will be around for the next 114 years and beyond. The continuity and strength of our beloved JCC is a major focus for us.
 
Policies, Procedures and Protocols
Based on everything we are learning from all of our sources, we will make sure that our policies, procedures and protocols are compliant, up-to-date and relevant to the unprecedented challenges we will face as we re-open. Our priority is to ensure that we are providing the safest environment we possibly can for everyone at our JCC.
 
Our Mission, Values and Spirit
It is really our unique mission, values and spirit which constitute the most important touchstone for our decision-making process, always. All decisions will reflect our guiding principles.
 
We must resist being impatient to re-open if we are not ready to abide by and fulfill these five key components. Please be assured that we will re-open as soon as as possible – but only when we believe we are 100% ready. Stay tuned for more from me.  
 
In the meantime, thank you for being a part of this special community. Stay safe and healthy, and as always, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or needs.
 
L'Shalom (In Peace),
Mike Goldstein, Executive Director
 
MAY 7, 2020
 
Dear JCC Community,
 
As the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold, we want to be sure to keep you up-to-date on the impact to our JCC.
 
We are pleased to inform you that yesterday we received funding from the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) loan which will enable us to keep our staff in place through June 30. It is our understanding that if we retain staff through that date, the loan is forgiven and essentially becomes a grant. However, those guidelines are not yet completely clear, so we continue to monitor them closely. We are so grateful that we have been able to keep our dedicated professionals whole during this pandemic – a decision that is fully consistent with our values. However, we cannot predict what will happen staff-wise after June 30.
 
Thank you to those who were able to donate your April and May membership dues and school/after school tuition. Even with those donations and emergency funding from our partner Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, these are still financially uncertain times for our JCC. We have experienced a substantial loss of income as a result of our closure. 
 
While we are uncertain of what summer 2020 will look like, we are in the process of planning for our next fiscal year (7/1/20 – 6/30/21) with a wide range of budget scenarios. In short, our JCC will survive this crisis, although it is still unclear what we will need to do in order to ensure our continuity.
 
There has been a lot of discussion around re-opening on a national, state and local level as well as among our fellow JCCs, but the timeline is still unknown. While we have not received any official CDC guidelines or government notification, we are working with various partners to make sure we stay up-to-date on the latest news and information.  
 
In order to be fully prepared when restrictions do begin to ease, we have put together a task force to plan and map out our re-opening strategies. Be assured that our top priority will be to re-open in a safe, well-coordinated and well-communicated manner.
 
As we learn more on all of these topics, we will be sure to keep you posted. In the meantime, please continue to stay safe and healthy. 
 
We are envisioning the day when we can all get back to our beloved JCC. If you need anything or you know someone in our community in need, please don't hesitate to let us know. Thank you for all your continued support and commitment to our JCC.
 
L'Shalom (In Peace),
Mike Goldstein, Executive Director and Stefani Klaskow, President
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