Senior Center reopens after COVID case, but masks are required

By Lauren LeBel
Staff Writer

SOUTHWICK — After learning of a positive COVID-19 case, the Southwick Senior Center was closed briefly last week, reopening Nov. 23, just before the Thanksgiving break.

Cindy Sullivan, the Senior Center director, said there was not a COVID-19 outbreak, but staff took the proper precautions and waited for contact tracing to reopen. She described the period of closing as the “spider web” — many interconnected threads had to be checked before the facility could reopen.

Although the building was closed for two days, Nov. 19 and 22, grab-and-go lunches were still available. The Senior Center was also closed Nov. 25-26 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Sullivan said prior to this positive case, face masks were strongly recommended at the center, but now they are required for everyone visiting or participating in programs. This decision was made in collaboration with the Southwick Health Department.

COVID-19 positive “numbers in Southwick are going up,” said Sullivan. With seniors visiting the center from different towns, as well, she said this is only a safety precaution.

“Everyone has been really understanding,” she added.

During most of the pandemic, in-person classes and lunches did not take place at the Senior Center, though grab-and-go lunches were offered. In July, outdoor classes returned, followed by in-person meals and indoor programs in August.

Since the reopening, Sullivan said depending on the class, participation varies. She went on to say that the in-person dining has not been as popular lately as it was prior to the start of the pandemic.

Regardless of turnout, Sullivan said it’s “nice to be able to do that,” in reference to the in-person programming — especially for the seniors who experienced time of isolation.

Moving forward, Sullivan said the Senior Center is planning for its Christmas party that will take place in December.

The mask requirement will be in effect until further notice. Hoping that all goes well, Sullivan said, “We will be open until we can’t be.”

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