When city buildings open to the public, including the Solon Senior Center, Community Center and Solon Center for the Arts, what will that look like? That was a discussion among city officials last week.

During the City Council Safety and Public Properties meeting last week, department heads leading various buildings discussed safety measures and expectations.

Councilman William I. Russo, who chairs the committee, said it is important to outline those for residents as well as to explain what they have been doing to connect to the community during the shutdown and the work done in preparation for reopening.

“They have all done an outstanding job during this pandemic in serving the residents within the parameters set by the governor,” Mr. Russo said.

Director of Recreation Rich Parker said that there are general steps being taken across all city buildings and a “re-opening team” has been created. That team is made up of key employees and departments who are working on how to phase the re-opening of internal operations and community services.

There will be the continuation of controlled entry to buildings, as well as the use of health questionnaires and waivers, Mr. Parker said.

“We will make every effort to keep everyone safe,” he said. “That’s our top priority.”

The Community Center can open day camps but there will be a monitoring of the number of people and when the center fully opens, social distancing of guests, he continued.

Staff will wear personal protective equipment and there will be barriers at the points of patron and staff interaction, Mr. Parker said. There will also be added hand sanitation and Covid-19 information posted in common areas.

There will be soft barricades and place markers to enforce social distancing requirements where there may be a potential for lines of people, he added.

“The critical component in re-opening is continued and enhanced cleaning procedures of buildings and continued closure of non-essential areas such as locker rooms and concessions,” Mr. Parker said.

Buildings will open gradually and in phases.

Senior Center Director Jill Frankel said the pandemic has brought on uncertain times “and we are all learning.”

She said residents are questioning and requesting the re-opening of the senior center.

“We also hear about the importance of connections,” Ms. Frankel said, adding that the senior citizens are the most vulnerable.

It is important to develop a plan for re-opening that helps seniors maintain and improve their physical and mental health without contributing to the spread of the virus. She said continued research will be done as well as listening to the guidance of heart experts.

“We are planning on starting slow and low in numbers and working with you as a community to come out stronger,” Ms. Frankel said.

Tracy Sullivan, director of Community and Cultural Enrichment, said that her department revamped its approach to programming in that most of its events and programs “were to provide for the masses and offer things for the whole community to come and enjoy.”

She said virtual classes are ongoing but classes in art, theater or fitness may begin this summer but with minimal numbers and possibly with a move outside of the center where there is more space.

“A lot is coming down to numbers, and how many people you can fit in a space,” she said.

“It is very important to us to feel we are staying connected to the city and the community,” Ms. Sullivan continued. “It would be nice to get our programming back out there.”

Almost 90 percent of the art center’s dance classes are running virtually through Zoom and 70 percent of music classes, she explained.

Camps are slated to begin June 8 although they are considering space as well as how many children can participate, she said of the possibility of having it at the art center.

“We would like to do outside programming as soon as we can get an OK,” she said.”We are ready to jump in and do them.”

Ms. Frankel said that, as restrictions are lifted, more transportation will be offered to seniors beyond essential medical appointments. “As restrictions are lifted, we will begin to add shopping into the mix,” she said.

During the pandemic thus far, Ms. Frankel said 6,000 calls have been made to check on the welfare of seniors.

“We also continue to work on social isolation and connection through our virtual programming,” she said, as well as increased nutritional services and the delivery of home activity kits.

Once the restrictions are lifted, delivery of meals will decrease but virtual programming will be ongoing for those who may be fearful of coming into the building, Ms. Frankel said.

“You’ve done the best you could to continue to provide services,” Mr. Russo said. “It has not been easy, but kudos to you all.”

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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