The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every aspect of everyday life. But for those with developmental disabilities, the effects are even more profound. Gompers, a Phoenix-based nonprofit, provides a broad spectrum of services to developmentally disabled individuals — but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many of those services were put on hold. The result has been a difficult change for more than 500 individuals who rely on Gompers’ services every day.
Gompers’ leadership worked throughout the past few months on the right solutions and right timing to resume its services and reopen its three locations. And now, the organization is preparing to open its doors once again and offer the important programs and services that benefit Valley individuals and families.
Gompers is reopening on the following schedule, pending any changes in the public health environment:
• In-Home Services — Have continued throughout the pandemic to serve families with individual needs.
• Gompers Private School (GPS) – Virtual learning began for our students on August 3. The school will follow the Governor and Arizona Department of Education Guidelines, which at this time says students can return to campus on August 17.
• Employment Services — Gompers’ groundbreaking employment program will return its members to the community starting August 10.
• Day Treatment Centers — Tuesday, September 8 is the current best-case scenario for the three Day Treatment Centers Gompers operates.
The reopening will be phased over time with a limited number of members at any given time open to resuming services. The only exception to the above is Gompers’ transportation services, which are not restarting for at least 30 days following reopening due to an inability to social distance in their vans.
Gompers has worked closely with HealthyVerify on its opening plan and recently received certification from the organization for its efforts. HealthyVerify works with businesses to implement strict health and safety procedures that help protect their employees and customers. HealthyVerify certified-businesses are taking smart steps to reduce the risk of transmitting infectious diseases to visitors and employees. Businesses may only display the HealthyVerify Certification if they implement procedures and agree to ongoing monitoring to ensure compliance.
“We have been working diligently since the beginning of the pandemic to find the right ways to provide our important services to our members,” said Mark Jacoby, President & CEO of Gompers. “This has been an extremely challenging time for individuals with developmental disabilities who have not been able to access the kind of day-to-day services they need in order to grow, thrive and maximize their quality of life. And it has been very difficult for caregivers and families who are having to balance their own situations with the extra challenge of COVID-19.
“So, it is extremely gratifying to complete our planning for our reopening, and we are looking forward to serving our members once again with enhanced safety protocols in place.”
Gompers will be practicing very strict social distancing protocols. Every member and student will have their own desk, all desks will be spaced six feet apart, and they will all be facing the same direction. Because of the varied nature of Gompers’ rooms, each room will be different, but as a rule of thumb, no room will have more than 10 people at a time in it (members and staff). The exception to this is our Center Based Employment program. The same social distancing measures will be in place, but due to the size of the campus, there will be more than 10 people.
Gompers’ staff will be mandated to wear Gompers provided PPE and will be brought back one week prior to any members returning to program so they can go through intensive training.
“We are looking forward to resuming our services with a commitment to the safety and health of our members and our staff,” Jacoby said. “We will continue to monitor the best practices and guidance from local, state and federal health officials as we reopen, but we are comfortable and confident with our reopening plans moving forward. We appreciate how supportive our community has been over the past few months and are pleased to be able to serve them once again.”