Fairbanks, Alaska (AP) - The North Star Council on Aging Fairbanks Senior Center Board of Directors has unanimously agreed to limit access to the Senior Center building beginning Monday, March 16.
According to the board, the move is to better prepare the center to meet the challenges related to the developing COVID-19 situation.
“It is deeply saddening that the momentum we worked so hard for to get the Senior Center to the point of being recognized as a full-service welcoming center of socialization for Fairbanks seniors is being impacted by this pandemic,” said Executive Director Darlene Supplee. “But when it comes to the choice between keeping the Center open for now and the health and safety of all our seniors, we must do this. Data indicates this virus particularly targets seniors and those whose health is already compromised.”
The board also enacted an emergency plan; the details of which include all classes, meetings, and groups currently using the center will be canceled or relocated. Sit down lunches at the center will be replaced with box lunches served on a drive-up basis.
The Center will continue to prepare and deliver Meals-on-Wheels to the homebound. Basic services such as Alaska Disability Resources, transportation services, and the Senior Companion Program will continue at the center by appointment.
Should COVID-19 reach the building itself, the center will be completely closed, and basic services and Meals-on-Wheels delivered remotely. The center is partnering with the Fairbanks Food Bank to prepare shelf-stable meal boxes for Meals-on-Wheels recipients in case the center must be closed. These meals will be delivered directly from the Food Bank. This new process is expected to add a $10,000 expense to the center’s already slim budget.
The Board is using the Centers for Disease Control and the State of Alaska emergency preparedness guidelines for guidance and will re-evaluate the plan for the center at each board meeting and as needed. The duration of these procedural changes will be determined by how long the COVID-19 outbreak remains a concern.
More information and updates can be found at facebook.com/FairbanksSeniorCenter.