3/26/2020 -- Governor Extends Closures from Amy C. Sousa, Chief Executive Officer

Yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker announced that all Massachusetts’ public and private schools will be closed through May 4, 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This closure order will impact both The Guild School’s day program as well as adult day programs across the Commonwealth.

The Guild will continue to provide both day and residential services for residential students and adult individuals throughout this period in the group homes.  All Guild houses will be closed to visitors, including family members and guardians until May 4 or until otherwise authorized by state agencies. To view visitation restrictions directed by the Department of Developmental Services, please click here.

Our staff will make every effort to use electronic communication methods to keep people connected during this time. If you have difficulty accessing appropriate communication technology at home to maintain contact, please contact Maureen Costello-Shea directly so that we can assist you.

I know this presents increased concerns for families, individuals, and staff. Please know that we are doing everything in our power to keep individuals healthy, safe, and engaged. We are fortunate that--at this time--we have no presumptive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 within The Guild. We will continue to work with you to provide updated information and recognize the difficulty of this ever-changing environment.

We deeply appreciate your support, well wishes, and patience. As always, if you have questions, concerns, or just need to talk, Please do not hesitate to contact house managers, Guild leaders, or me directly.

Amy Sousa
Chief Executive Officer

3/23/2020 -- Governor Issues Stay-at-Home Advisory from Amy C. Sousa, Chief Executive Officer

This morning, Governor Baker announced a stay-at-home advisory for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts beginning at noon on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 through April 7, 2020. As such, all non-essential operations will be shut down to the public. For the Governor's COVID-19 Essential Services Letter, please click here.

The Guild provides an essential service and will remain open for individuals served. Guild staff members will be issued “essential personnel” notices that allows them to traverse from home to The Guild to provide support and programming to individuals in residence.

Due to the Governor’s stay-at-home advisory, all Guild houses will be closed to visitors, including family members and guardians effective March 24, 2020. Our staff will make every effort to use electronic communication methods to keep people connected during this time. If you have difficulty accessing appropriate communication technology at home to maintain contact, please contact your house manager directly so that we can assist you.

We recognize that prolonged family separation can have detrimental consequences. Thus, we understand if you would like to take your children home to wait out the virus. Please be advised that individuals who return home will be required to remain home for the duration of the public health crisis. Keep in mind that this crisis is projected to last for a substantial amount of time. Be thoughtful and realistic about what resources you have to care for individuals at home.

Thank you for your understanding and flexibility as we navigate this rapidly evolving and unprecedented health situation.

Amy C. Sousa
Chief Executive Officer

3/20/2020 -- Want to Help? Here's how... from Alex Comeau, Communications Coordinator

We would like to extend a big thank you for the overwhelming amount of support we have received over the past week. It is truly inspiring to see communities come together during these unprecedented times. Despite the closure of the school due to COVID-19, we are still fully committed to educating, encouraging and empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities so they may achieve their full potential and lead high-quality lives and participate meaningfully in society. We have put together a list of items needed in order to help continue our mission and are asking for your help. If you are able to, please consider donating an item. There is no such thing as too much or too little. For a complete list, please click here. The list is constantly being updated, so check back for more items.

Items can be mailed to:

The Guild for Human Services
521 Virginia Road
Concord, MA 01742

Alex Comeau
Communications Coordinator

3/18/2020 -- Parents Helping Parents of Massachusetts from Jen Magnuson, Chief Clinical Officer

Dear Guild Community,

In the wake of the current events, The Guild acknowledges that feeling anxious and stressed in these rapidly changing times is normal. It is important that you take care of yourselves and monitor your own physical and mental health on top of the care and concern that you have for others. We understand that the news may feel overwhelming, but being mindful of yourself and others while working to maintain a balanced daily routine may help.

I wanted to take a moment to share a community resource with you all. Parents Helping Parents of Massachusetts is a local organization that provides a free and confidential 24/7 Parent Stress Line hosts Online Support Groups for parents through a digital media platform. Please find more information about these programs at www.parentshelpingparents.org.

We will continue to develop and share resources and support for families in the days and weeks to come. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself or our clinicians with questions, or concerns.

Jennifer Magnuson
Chief Clinical Officer

3/18/2020 -- COVID-19 Update from Amy C. Sousa, CEO

Visits to The Guild

On March 11, 2020, we shared information about The Guild’s value of individuals’ social and family connections. As you know, we take “social distancing” procedures with extreme caution. Given the public health concerns, and specific health concerns of individuals at The Guild, we must take extraordinary measures to protect the safety of the individuals in our care.

Last week, The Guild limited family visits to Guild residences to immediate family members and guardians only. Effective today, March 18, those immediate family visits will be limited further to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Parents and guardians will be allowed to visit their individuals for no more than one hour per week in a designated space. Those visits must be scheduled with the house manager in advance.

Parents/guardians will be required to submit to a temperature check before entering the residence. If temperature is elevated, the family member will not be allowed to enter Guild premises. Additionally, houses with more acute risk may place additional restrictions on visitation. House staff are empowered to err on the side of caution to protect the health and safety of your (adult) children.

Our staff will make every effort to use electronic communication methods to keep people connected during this time. If you have difficulty accessing appropriate communication technology at home to maintain contact, please contact your house manager directly so that we can assist you.

Home Visits

We recognize that prolonged family separation can have detrimental consequences. Thus, we understand if you would like to take your children home to wait out the virus. Please be advised that effective today, March 18, individuals who visit home will be required to remain home for the duration of the public health crisis. Keep in mind that this crisis is projected to last for a substantial amount of time. Be thoughtful and realistic about what resources you have to care for individuals at home.

Should you wish for your individual to return to The Guild, the individual must pass a COVID-19 screening before returning to The Guild. Unfortunately, there can be no exceptions to this directive, not even for psychiatric crisis. So, again, please be thoughtful and realistic about your individual’s daily, weekly, and monthly needs before making the decision to bring her/him home.

It is with heavy hearts that The Guild’s leaders put these restrictions in place. Please do not hesitate to contact us with your questions, concerns, fears, and frustrations. We are here for both your children and you.

Thank you for your understanding and flexibility as we navigate this rapidly evolving and unprecedented health situation.

Amy C. Sousa
Chief Executive Officer

3/16/2020 -- Social Story Supports

With the closure of The Guild School from March 16, 2020 through April 7, 2020, we have posted social story supports on The Guild's website that can be accessed by clicking here. These are currently being used to explain the cancellation to residential students and are also a good tool for day students. There are three separate stories that are modified depending on level of ability. 

We will continue to keep you as informed as possible with any new developments by email, but you can also find Guild COVID-19 updates by clicking here. If anyone has any questions about anything, please do not hesitate to reach out.

3/15/2020 -- COVID-19 Update from Amy C. Sousa, CEO

Based on Governor Baker's order, all Massachusetts schools--both public and private--must close to curb the spread COVID-19 until April 7, 2020. As a result, The Guild School will deliver alternative educational programming to residential students in The Guild's group homes beginning tomorrow, Monday, March 16, 2020. Guild day students should remain home from Monday, March 16 through April 7, 2020. Guild educators will be in contact with families to provide home-based, educational alternatives.

All Guild educators and direct care staff should report to their assigned residential houses tomorrow, March 16, 2020. Guild administrative staff should report to work as scheduled to receive assignments.

Amy C. Sousa
Chief Executive Officer

3/13/2020 -- COVID-19 Update from Amy C. Sousa, CEO

Thank you for all of your emails, calls, and notes of support, advice, and information. We are so lucky to have such a remarkable community of people surrounding us during this time of increased anxiety.

Like you, The Guild is receiving a flood of cancellation notices from school districts, day programs, businesses, and houses of worship. We respect the efforts of these organizations to help prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Each agency, household, and individual needs to make thoughtful decisions about how to move forward.

At The Guild School, we educate approximately 80 students, who benefit from consistency, context, and communication. During this time of caution, we continue to rely on these themes:

  • Consistency: At The Guild School, our students benefit from highly-structured schedules and routines. Given the needs and small size of our community, The Guild School plans to remain open unless there is a specific reason to close, such as the potential for imminent risk of infection, public health order to shut down or widespread staffing shortages. In the event that a shutdown is required, The Guild has prepared educational curricula to be delivered in the residential houses. We have also made many of the lessons available for day students to access at home.
  • Context: We try to keep disruptions to routine to a minimum; however, if there is an unavoidable schedule change, we are preparing students with information that provides a prevention context rather than one of fear or catastrophe.
  • Communication: As we learn about cancellations of favorite activities or events, we are communicating with students about those changes. The Guild’s speech pathologists and clinicians are developing social stories and schedule prompts for individuals at varying levels of detail to help them understand the changes. Additionally, we are developing these stories in case of multiple contingencies, knowing that the situation is evolving quickly.

We understand that families and communities may wish to have their children return home. The Guild School’s decision to stay open -- with increased preventative measures -- is an option for your children; but, it is not a requirement. We ask that you stay in close communication with us as you make these decisions. We know that they are not easy. In the meantime, we will continue to stay in contact with you and keep you abreast of any developing information.

Amy C. Sousa
Chief Executive Officer

3/11/2020 -- COVID-19 Update from Amy C. Sousa, CEO

The information about and impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is evolving constantly. As a result, The Guild is continuously assessing and reviewing the latest information to support the individuals in our care.

As you are aware, Governor Baker declared a state of emergency yesterday due to the Coronavirus. Our understanding is that MA Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Secretary Sudders will be issuing guidance and recommendations on congregate settings today and MassHealth will be issuing guidance on additional flexibilities by the end of this week.

In addition, The Guild leadership and healthcare workers are participating in numerous webinars on prevention and preparation for COVID-19 to help organize our work. We will provide you with regular updates, including the information below regarding The Guild’s current practices in the areas of prevention, social distancing, and preparedness for possible infection.

Prevention

We are continuing to support the practice of universal precautions as previously documented:  

  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, using a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water frequently and use hand sanitizer.
  • If you have a fever or feel sick, stay home and call your healthcare provider.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Get the flu vaccine – it is not too late!

In addition to universal precautions, The Guild has scheduled extra deep-cleans of main building weekly until the virus abates. (The building is already cleaned daily under usual circumstances.) All houses and classrooms are being supplied with additional cleaning and sanitation products, which are being used regularly throughout the day. Activities of daily living (ADLs) are being given extra staff support as well, particularly in the areas of personal hygiene education and routines.

Social Distancing

The Guild is applying “social distancing” measures as recommended by public health officials in order to slow down the spread of the disease. Specifically, The Guild is implementing the following:

Community Engagement (“CE”) Activities

The Guild’s community engagement activities are vital components of individuals’ leisure and educational programming. The Guild will make every effort to ensure that individuals are engaged in stimulating, educational, and appropriate activities; however, some types of CE activities will be curtailed reasonably to protect the health and safety of the individuals served.

At this point, The Guild is limiting community experiences in the following ways:

  • Until further notice, The Guild will cancel attendance to large, indoor events, i.e. professional sporting events, Disney on Ice, etc. Per public health guidelines, we will stay in consistent communication with partner providers regarding attendance at smaller events as safety and health allows.
  • Some regularly-scheduled community engagement activities will be put on hold until further notice and replaced with alternative programming. For example, Launch, Sky Zone, and pot luck events are cancelled until further notice.
  • The Guild’s medical providers have identified individuals with medically complex/fragile profiles who may need to have alternative programming with even more limited exposure to crowded events.
  • If parents/guardians have concerns about community engagement activities for their individual and/or if they want to identify any additional restrictions, please contact the following people:
  • Mustapha Abdulai, Director of Adult Residential Programs,
  • Mark Boilard, Director Youth Residential Programs, or
  • Annie Willis, Chief Education Officer.
  • If an individual identifies activities that s/he wants to forgo due to concerns of COVID-19, house managers and/or education managers will work with them to accommodate their concerns and make a plan for an alternative activity.

Visitation to and from The Guild

Because The Guild deeply values individuals’ social and family connections, we take “social distancing” procedures with extreme caution. As such, we are not recommending that families stop visitations with individuals and students. Rather, The Guild is recommending that families modify their interactions with individuals in ways that help to prevent the spread of illness to others, including the following:

  • Until further notice, The Guild will host IEP, ISP, and Caring Together meetings via conference call.
  • The Guild’s maintenance staff will be tasked to residences and school areas only in cases of health and safety. Cosmetic repairs will be postponed until the risk of infection has abated.
  • Family visits to Guild residences should be limited to immediate family members and guardians only. Those visits should be pre-scheduled for limited periods of time. Visitors with any symptoms of illness will not be allowed to enter Guild facilities. All visitors must take reasonable precautions against the spread of infection.
  • When appropriate, consider using electronic communication options with your individual.
  • Some Guild sites may have additional prohibitions on site visits as dictated by public health officials and/or the medical diagnoses of the individuals being served in that location.
  • The Guild asks that family members who are experiencing illness symptoms, i.e. cough, fever or shortness of breath, to postpone visits home. 
  • Individuals who visit home will be required to engage in precautionary measures upon return to Guild residences, including bathing and washing clothing.
  • Due to the increased need for staffing at the residences and the risk of infection in vehicles, The Guild must suspend most transportation for home visits.

In the Event of COVID-19 Infection

If it has been determined by medical personnel that isolation is appropriate then any staff or student with an infectious disease will be restricted from school until s/he is no longer contagious. The Department of Public Health (DPH) will be contacted. DPH guidelines will be followed. Unless otherwise advised by DPH, the following measures will be instituted by The Guild:

  • Infectious Diseases will be reported by the Nurse to the local health department as required by Massachusetts General Law, Chapter III, Section 6.
  • Isolation procedures will be established by The Guild’s Health Services Department and physician consultant in accordance with the DPH Standards as needed for individual situations.
  • The Guild’s Health Services Department or designee will notify all parents, guardians, and referring agencies of the reported communicable disease within the agency.
  • Residential students with an infectious disease will be sent home when possible. They may return to school when the infection period is over, with written confirmation from a licensed medical practitioner.
  • For residential adults or If a residential student cannot be sent home, appropriate isolation procedures will be instituted for the duration of the infectious period.
  • The individual will not be allowed to attend classes or work. S/he must have as little contact with the others as possible.
  • Meals should be placed on paper plates and disposable utensils used. Use of a private bathroom will be provided as needed depending on the type and nature of the illness in conjunction with the recommendations of DPH.
  • Staff will wear protective equipment as indicated and should wash hands very carefully after attending to this individual.

As a parent, daughter, and human services’ provider, I share your concerns about the spread of COVID-19. Please know that The Guild is keeping abreast of all information channels to stay ahead of any and all prevention and mitigation strategies available. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with your questions, concerns, and ideas.


Amy C. Sousa
Chief Executive Officer

3/3/2020 -- COVID-19 Update from Jennifer Smith - Director of Health Services

As many are aware, there is growing discussion and planning for the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and local board of health agencies have been in constant contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and have launched a site that includes extensive information regarding the Coronavirus here: mass.gov/2019coronavirus It is updated on a regular basis. It is important to remember that the risk of COVID-19 in Massachusetts remains low.

The precautions to help prevent the spread of colds and flu can help protect against COVID-19 :  

  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, using a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water frequently and use hand sanitizer.
  • If you have a fever or feel sick, stay home and call your healthcare provider.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Get the flu vaccine – it is not too late!

The Guild follows the attached isolation precaution policy for infectious diseases. The Guild’s Emergency Preparedness Committee will be convening to prepare and plan for potential exposure to COVID-19. In the event of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 within one of The Guild’s Programs, we will consult with local and state agencies for further guidance. The information and guidelines provided by the Department of Public health and CDC are evolving. We will stay well informed and adjust decisions according to that information and guidance.

Feel free to reach out with any questions.

Jennifer Smith
Director of Health Services