By LISA WHALEY
Jonesborough’s Senior Center is opening back up today.
“We are thrilled,” said Center Director Mary Regen on Tuesday just prior to Wednesday’s reopening. “Even though we’re going to have to change how we do things, I think we were all so excited to be able to do what we are here to do.”
That mission, according to Regen, is to help meet the needs of area seniors, from educational to medical to social.
And while the center has stayed busy providing as many services they could, from meal delivery to online fitness classes, it hasn’t quite been the same.
“It’s not the same as people being here,” Regen said. “We have a lot of people that this was the main part of their day.
“This has really become a family to them.”
That family atmosphere was severely curtailed in March when the ongoing COVID pandemic forced the center to temporarily close its doors.
“It was just sudden,” Regen recalled. “One minute you’re open and then the world shut down.”
When Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee issued the executive order allowing senior centers in the state to reopen, Regen said staff and local seniors were more than ready to return to a new “normal.”
“Our phone has been ringing off the hook,” she said.
Still, Regen stressed, that doesn’t mean a return to business as usual.
“For us, it’s all about taking baby steps,” she said. “We are in this together.”
Online options will still be available for seniors more comfortable at home, Regen promised. She also said the center will be ready to adapt procedures as needed as they move forward.
Here are a few of the guidelines:
• Beginning on Oct. 14, the center will open in a reduced capacity, with social distancing, mandatory masks and sanitizing efforts in place.
• Hours will be Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to allow for additional cleaning.
• Prior to entry into the center, participants will have their temperature taken and will be asked a series of questions.
• The center is asking anyone who has had a fever in the last 48 hours, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell or anyone that has experienced diarrhea or vomiting in the last 24 hours to refrain from visiting the center until those symptoms are resolved.
• The Fitness Center will be open appointment only, from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m.
• Contact the front desk at (423) 753-4781 to schedule a time slot.
• The access will be in 45-minute intervals in groups of five. One fitness class will be offered per day and participants will need to sign for the class. Social distancing will be required. Only 10 people will be allowed per class, with online classes still provided.
• The computer room will be open and available, as well as ping pong, shuffleboard and billiards, with two people per table. Please schedule billiard use with the front desk.
• Congregate drive-thru meals will still be provided at 11:30 a.m. No meals may be consumed in the center at this time.
For more information, call (423) 753-4781.