As a new year under the COVID-19 pandemic dawns, so do new hopes for reopening our society and bringing The Arc Arapahoe & Douglas community back together in-person. The last months/years have shown us that hopes can be dashed and sometimes plans must change. We at The Arc A/D continue to be flexible. We were happy when the vaccine came out in Spring of 2021, but Delta stopped us in our tracks. We gained a new hope with the booster shots and kids 5 and up being able to get vaccinated, only to have Omicron make us back pedal again. We don’t know what the future holds, but rest assured we take our responsibility to keep everyone as safe as possible very seriously. We, as have so many of you, have felt deeply frustrated about our inability to get beyond COVID. We are always hoping to host a live event, but planning, in the background, for it to be virtual. Our board and staff frequently discuss this issue, but we only know what we know today. We cannot predict the future and have to evaluate things weeks, if not months, in advance, as our events often take careful planning and substantial deposits.
Just as we did at the beginning of the pandemic, we are following the public health recommendations to ensure we all are as safe as possible. In the summer months we were able, with mitigation strategies, to host several small outdoor events where we were able to see your smile under covered faces, and it warmed our hearts. With the use of masks, ventilation, and planning small group activities (such as our Escape rooms and Winter Wonderland events) we were able to host in-person events. Each time learning more about how to be as safe as possible, in an impossible world.
As we know, all things in life exist on a spectrum, and so should our approach to in-person events in a 2022 COVID world. We know we cannot insist on living in a zero-risk mindset for everything, because if that were the case, we would forever be paralyzed. Thus, in 2021 we started looking at the many events we host in shades of grey, as there is no way risk can be zero.
We know that masks are quite effective (maybe not perfect) at preventing the spread of COVID-19 and that being vaccinated increases the chance of mild symptoms if exposed, we know that being outdoors increases ventilation and reduces the spread, but we also know that many of those we love, care for, and support due to various health conditions could be in a very high-risk category. We hope to have small group events, like The ADventures in FUN, return when we can comfortably be outdoors. We look forward to more crafts and cooking in small groups, along with just lounging in “Our Place” or enjoying popcorn and soda at movie nights under the stars.
We have all heard the metaphor of jumping in with both feet, and while we are not there yet, we also do not have both feet stuck to the ground. We know with each passing day; vaccinations are making things a bit safer. This allows us to take a closer step to the normalcy that we all so desperately crave, while knowing full well the virus does not consult with us on our plans. We have to be flexible and prepared, as we’ve asked you all to be during these past months.
We continue to pride ourselves on being a safe place for our Arapahoe & Douglas County communities.
By Luke Wheeland
Director of Community Outreach, Education and Communication