New Jersey Department of Human Services announced Thursday that people with developmental and intellectual disabilities will be allowed to return to daily skill-building and recreational programs the state had closed to curb the spread of COVID-19.
As published by nj.com, the announcement has been awaited for months by thousands of families and people who provide state services to people with developmental disabilities. Day programs where they used to spend as many as 40 hours week learning and socializing with their peers will be operative within two weeks.
According to the announcement, the COVID-19 Activity Level Index, or CALI score, will no longer be used to control the opening of day programs. The score will determine how many people may attend a program at the same time, however. Based on Thursday’s score, no program may exceed 50% of its capacity because the spread of disease is high or moderate, depending on the county.
Families set up an informal organization online and were preparing a demonstration in Freehold Saturday to call attention to Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration.
They have noted that these restrictions for programs used by people with disabilities remained in place while the government relaxed restrictions on nursing homes visits, attendance at weddings and sporting events and dining capacity at restaurants.
The announcement underlined the preoccupation and eagerness of families to retake the programs.
Day programs open
“In response to such feedback from individuals, families and guardians, and in continuous consultation with the New Jersey Department of Health, today the Division is releasing updated Congregate Day Program Re-Opening Requirements. The newly updated requirements allow providers to elect to open and operate congregate day programs at limited capacity, regardless of the current CALI designation.”
The programs will need some time, “generally two weeks to coordinate re-opening but may re-open earlier if they are able to come into compliance with the Congregate Day Program Re-Opening Requirements,” according to the memo.