March 24, 2021
Dear DDS Community:
Just over a year ago, I sent my first “Coronavirus update” to the DDS community.
We shared the Governor’s declaration of a State of Emergency, and the steps we
were taking within DDS to protect your loved ones. We declared that health and
safety of your loved ones is our top priority. No one could have predicted the ways
the pandemic would impact all our lives.
Soon after, with guidance from our partners at the Massachusetts Department of
Public Health and the Command Center, we made some of the hardest decisions I
hope this organization ever has to make, including suspending in-person visitation
and closing day programs to in-person services. Like the rest of the world, when
the virus first hit, our programs didn’t have a reliable supply of PPE or the capacity
to conduct testing at scale. That quickly changed.
With a strategy focused on testing, infection control, and PPE, we flattened the
curve by summer 2020. We re-opened our day programs to in-person services
with precautions and guidance to keep participants and staff safe. And we resumed
in-person visitation, with outdoor and off-site visits starting 4th of July weekend,
and indoor visits starting October 1, before the cold weather set in. When the
second surge hit our programs as predicted in the fall, we were better prepared.
Your voice was instrumental in driving and shaping these developments. You
let us know when our policies and protocols went too far – or not far enough. You
shared your stories, ideas, frustrations, and hopes. Your thoughtful suggestions
help us provide our programs the flexibility and guidance to meet the unique needs
of each individual we serve.
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Thank you to all who are active in your local Citizen’s Advisory Board, our
Statewide Advisory Council, and advocacy organizations like The Arc of
Massachusetts and Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong.
DDS remains committed to hearing your voice, and keeping you informed and
engaged as we go. On the pages that follow, please find important updates
including Phase 4 reopening and vaccinations.
As always, please stay in contact with your Service Coordinator and Area Office
and follow the Department on our website (mass.gov/dds) and social media.
Take good care,
Read More Here: DDSCommissionerRyderMessagetoFamiliesMar2021