The Solon Senior Center is developing a plan to welcome its 6,000 members back now that the state has given the green light to opening after six months of closure due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Director Jill Frankel said last week.

Gov. Mike DeWine allowed for the reopening of adult daycare and senior centers on Sept. 21. The centers, which have been closed since March 23, can reopen with reduced capacity and new safety standards, according to the governor’s directive.

Ms. Frankel said that the city is working to develop specific plans before reopening as well as to fully understand the guidelines set forth.

“There is a significant number of guidelines above and beyond a typical business,” she said. “We want to safely reopen.”

That date has yet to be determined.

“We know when we do reopen that it will be different,” Ms. Frankel said.

Seniors would need to maintain social distancing and don masks, among other changes and rules to adhere to the guidelines. The elderly has been identified as a high at-risk group for the virus.

“Now that we have the information [on the guidelines,] we will put a specific plan together,” Ms. Frankel said. “Once we know when that will happen, we will contact participants.”

Since the closure, the typically active center has been providing community supportive service programming as well as virtual activities. There has been ongoing food delivery and welfare check in calls as well as other types of outreach. Video virtual platform activity kits have also been made available to seniors as well as in-person outdoor activities as of late.

Ms. Frankel said overall there are many seniors anxious for the reopening and others who continue to be more cautious and participate in activities from home and will do so even when they reopen.

“Others feel they are in need of the socialization and physical fitness opportunities as they have seen a decline in their physical and mental health,” Ms. Frankel added.

Senior Alice Wilson, 75, of Solon, said she has been doing both outdoor and in-person exercise classes as well as some virtual.

Prior to the pandemic, she would visit the center on Portz Parkway every day.

“I think it has been depressing for quite a few people,” she said of the closure. “Definitely, we all miss it. I see people who were vibrant in a lot of ways and now they are not as much. Some have not been able to go and do anything.”

Ms. Wilson said she would come to the center once it re-opens, but she does not want to take up space for some of the people who may have not had a chance to do much since the shutdown.

“I would want them to have a chance,” she said.

Ms. Wilson is able to get outside and walk and the center’s knitting group has met at a member’s home where they have sat outside with masks.

Senior Betty Nelson, 90, said that, while she misses the center a great deal and is looking forward to its reopening and a more normal lifestyle, she is still uncomfortable with group gatherings. It would be dependent on the specific activity, she said of whether or not she would attend.

“There are people who don’t keep their distance, and I’m really not comfortable with that,” she said.

She said that she has taken part in some virtual programming and rehearsed with the Act II singers on Zoom.

Prior to the pandemic, she would visit the center regularly, especially since the passing of her husband she said.

“I absolutely miss it terribly,” Ms. Nelson said of the center and its members. “It became my second family.”

“The socialization part is so important, and it is so difficult when you live alone,” she said.

For the last decade, Sue Reid has covered the government, business climate and residents of Solon. A Times reporter for 22 years, Ms. Reid has earned commendations from the Ohio Newspaper Association and Cleveland Press Association.

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