Coronavirus “COVID-19” Updates

By Michael Kelly, C.O.O. YMCA of Greenwich


JUNE 8, 2020 – Y Reopening Plan Under Construction

We’re very excited to hear the news from Governor Lamont on pools and gyms reopening. The guidelines were issued Sunday, June 7 specifying the new safety and social distancing requirements, which our executive team is evaluating, and checking with the appropriate government entities to determine when we can reopen safely.

We’ve been working hard to improve the facility during the closure and can’t wait for you to see the results!

Check back for additional details by the end of the week!

Below are some of the recommendations and guidelines provided by the state of Connecticut.


MAY 29, 2020 – C.O.O. Corner Update

I hope this message finds you and your families healthy and safe.

The good news is that camp/childcare, gyms, wellness centers and pools are included in the June window of CT reopening plan.  We now await the formal rules to define how we will be permitted to operate.  We are excited about the opportunity to celebrate your return to the Y when you are ready.

To help us get you there, let me share a few quick points on how we are doing our best to make the Y a healthy and safe environment for all.

  • Member Survey
    • As we work through our reopening playbook, we want to be responsive to Member needs and questions on a variety of topics, including our potential reopening date.
    • If you have not already done so, please take a few moments to respond to provide us with valuable input.
    • https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YMCAReopeningMemberSurvey
  • Safety is most important.
    • In accordance with CDC guidelines, we are following enhanced cleaning protocols and utilizing PPE throughout the facilities
    • As part of the capital campaign, we have installed a state-of-the-art air conditioning system that will effectively and efficiently provide superior air quality within 50 East Putnam (50E).
      • New Dehumidification systems for both pools are in process.
    • As part of a recently received grant, we have installed 53 security cameras throughout 50E and its parking areas, including one at the Mason Street entrance that will record Member temperature upon arrival.
    • Although originally configured for use on March 16, parking garage access now requires a scan of your Membership Card.
  • Projects
    • Wellness Center Reconfiguration
      • New equipment under our lease renewal
      • Re-designing the Wellness Center to be of optimal spacing and flow
      • Moved equipment to satisfy social distancing guidelines
      • Cleaned floors
      • Replaced and moved turf
    • Online Reservation System – under construction
    • Pool cleaning and bulkhead repair/refurbishment
      • As we were cleaning the Olympic pool, discovered a leak in our bulkhead. Has been repaired and we are taking the opportunity to refurbish the unit by cleaning/painting the fiberglass.

We have a lot happening and look forward to showing it to you.

Stay Healthy and Safe!


MAY 24, 2020 – Member Survey

As we prepare to reopen the YMCA of Greenwich, we are utilizing the “guidelines” established by the CDC, YMCA National and various subject matter experts. And while we are bound by our state/local Health Department, who will establish both our reopening date (tentatively June 20) as well as the “rules” we will need to follow, our Member feedback is very important to us.
We appreciate your participation in completing the following survey. Please click here to take our Member Survey.

We’re excited to see you soon at the Y!


MAY 11, 2020 – Financial Update

I hope this message finds you and your families healthy and safe.

In light of the existing uncertainty within the economy, I wanted to provide an update on our finances.

Our revenue sources are primarily from Membership fees at this time.  With the pandemic restrictions continue to extend and the ramifications ripple through the economy, we understand that a growing portion of our Membership have opted to cancel or freeze their fees.   We are very grateful to all our Members for your support of the Y – past, present and future.  Our current revenue does not support the Y infrastructure.  As previously reported, we were aggressively managing our expenses that included the furloughing of our hourly staff as of April 1 and paying our salaried staff at reduced rates.

Fortunately, we have received some relief from some federal programs.  Under the CARES Act, we have qualified for a SBA “forgivable” loan under a program called the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  As the name indicates, the spirit of this program is to provide paychecks for our employees (although there are some expenses that qualify for coverage such as rent and utilities).  If one utilizes the loan proceeds in accordance with the program requirements that cover an 8-week period after the loan is funded, the loan will not need to be repaid.  We received our funding at the end of April and our first act was to revoke the furloughs for hourly employees and return them to the Y payroll.  It is our intention to achieve forgiveness under this program.  Frankly, this program is a lifesaver as I am not sure how we would have survived an ever-extending closure.

Another area that has been impacted by the economy is the fundraising we were pursuing to support the Aquatics Capital Campaign (ACC).  The economic uncertainty has made garnering donations difficult at this time.  At the time of our closure, we had adequate funds raised to complete only a portion of the first phase of the project.  In order to continue to support the campaign, we have been able to secure project financing at favorable rates – both interest rate as well as construction charges with many projects postponed or cancelled.  The benefit is that the financing will permit us to complete all aspects of the program – new air conditioning, Olympic and Alumni Pool Dehumidification, Bulkhead and Scoreboard.  Further, we can take a temporary hiatus from pursuing ACC fundraising while continuing the work on the building and pools during our closure period.  As such, the impact of the construction should be minimal upon our reopening (more to follow on that topic in coming days).  That said, we will need to restart our fundraising efforts in the near term to assure that we have funds for our quarterly loan payments.  It is our hope and intention to have the necessary funds to cover the full amount of the loan by spring 2021.

We are doing our best to work with the funds we have to take care of our people and facility and look forward to celebrating your return.

Stay Healthy and Safe!

Please note, the reopening of our facility is tentatively anticipated for June, date TBD, pending further updates from the Governor and local officials.


MAY 1, 2020 – Planning to Reopen 

I hope this message finds you and your families healthy and safe.

Sadly, the Y closure continues into May.  That said, there are a few bright spots about our reopening.

Heading the list is childcare.  We are completing our third week of operating a childcare program for hospital workers under Project 26, funded by the Ray Dalio Foundation.  Besides providing a much-needed resource to our frontline heroes, we are also demonstrating that we can run a safe program that follows all the prescribed guidance and precautions in this challenging environment.  Provision of childcare will be a valued resource and we are hopeful that we can reopen our primary facility in the coming weeks as the remainder of the economy begins to return.   In addition, with the potential that schools may not reopen until the fall, we may be permitted to start our summer camp early, allowing children to interact in a safe environment while adding some school-related activities during the day to provide a group learning environment that has been lacking since mid-March.

As for the Health and Wellness areas, the federal government reopening model has wellness centers included in the first phase.  We are subject to state and local restrictions that will delay our reopening of this portion of our facility but will look to the best practices and lessons learned from other Ys that are permitted to open earlier (for example, the YMCA of Augusta Georgia is opening today).   I was on a Y-sponsored call with the CDC yesterday and they will soon be issuing their guidelines for the opening of sleep away camps that include pools and other wellness related areas that will be the blueprint for our next steps in these areas.  One positive confirmation by the CDC – COVID-19 cannot survive in water chemically treated with chlorine or bromine (as are our pools).  Our challenge is assuring that our Members can safely move to and from the pool through the remainder of the facility.

We have created a Task Force that is addressing all aspects of reopening – from entrance to exit and how Membership and Staff can safely co-exist in the space.  We will be sending Member surveys to gauge your comfort level as well as determine the aspects of the Y that are most important to you at opening.  One thing is for certain – the experience will be vastly different from the previous norm in the early stages.  Expect to have your temperature taken, pre-registration for classes and equipment as well as the need for social distancing and face covering, to name a few.

When we are able to return to the previous norm will be dependent upon many factors.  All I can assure you is that the Y staff continues to work diligently to get you safely there as soon as practical.  We look forward to celebrating your return.

Stay Healthy and Safe!


APRIL 3, 2020

As the Y closure has now extended into April, it is apparent that our reopening will not be in a “few weeks” as originally hoped.   The extension of our reopening timeframe also means the extension of our financial challenges.

I had mentioned in an earlier message that staff were being paid at reduced rates.  By reducing our overall payroll for the March 31 pay period, we were able to assure payment for all our regular salaried and hourly staff.

Purportedly, help is on the way in the form of federal, state and local relief programs (RP) that are designed to assist businesses obtain liquidity to bridge gaps, maintain payroll and cover operating expenses.   It is my intention to apply for all for which we qualify.  However there are many unanswered questions related to qualification and timing of cash flow under the RPs.

Although some of the RPs relate specifically to maintaining payroll, we do not have the liquidity to continue to pay all employees at this time.  As such:

  • The hourly staff have been temporarily furloughed until we reopen.
    • Please note that there is potential to qualify for incremental Unemployment under a Federal RP so furloughed staff should be paid as much as if they were working full time.
    • The Y pays Unemployment to the state on a delayed basis so furlough is about timing of cash flow (not a reduction of expense).
  • The salaried staff continue to be paid at reduced rates, vast majority working remotely.

It is my hope that as the RPs become finalized and the liquidity flows, I can conceivably rehire prior to reopening.   At the same time, we continue to work (and spend) on improving the Y so that when we reopen, the annual maintenance items we typically perform over the summer will be completed.

Please know that we are working hard to keep the Y solvent, take care of our staff to the best of our ability and to improve member value upon reopen.

We appreciate all that the Members do to “stay with us”.

Stay Healthy and Safe!


MARCH 27, 2020

Your notes of support and agreement to “stay with us” warms the heart and demonstrates that you share our commitment to the community – thank you for your continued support!

With an eye towards our shared community, please note that we are working on multiple fronts.

  • We continue to pursue providing child care to health care workers and first responders. We have the approval of the Greenwich Department of Health and are working with the CT Office of Early Childhood to utilize our Early Learning Center.  Several teachers have volunteered to participate in this important program and we hope that we are operational shortly.
  • We were scheduled to host two blood drives on the next two Mondays – March 30 and April 6. There is a dire need for blood as many locations have cancelled their drives so we were proud to offer our location for this purpose and had been working to assure that were properly staffed with volunteers and had the facility properly protected.
    • The American Red Cross made the difficult decision this morning to cancel our drives as there were too many donors enrolled from New York and they determined the risk of exposure was too high.
    • Gives you a flavor of the challenges being felt on many fronts.

We continue to work on other initiatives around the YMCA. We will provide pictures on the website in near future but below are some updates:

  • Completed the Alumni Pool maintenance – drain, clean, repair, refill.
  • Olympic Pool
    • Clean and refill was originally scheduled for August as it is a multi-week job.
      • As our potential re-open has now moved from end of March to late April (per Governor mandate), we are proceeding with the draining, cleaning and refill of Olympic Pool.
      • We would not be required to do any “deep” maintenance until Summer 2021 so you can have continued access to the pool upon your return.
    • Extended close permits us to accelerate the schedule for dehumidification installation
    • Have been painting and scrubbing.
  • Painted the hallway from the Wellness Center to the Olympic Pool

The expansion of Y@HOME grows in the same manner as daffodils in springtime. We have additional content for getting the kids out of the house and into the garden as well as more training videos from your favorite Group Exercise instructors.  You can find these resources at: http://www.greenwichymca.org/yhome-resources/.

Stay tuned for more detailed updates from the Y team in the coming days.

In closing, we take our mission of Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility seriously.

Stay Healthy and Safe!


MARCH 23, 2020: Great Appreciation & An Update on Refunds, Billing & Tax Letters

First, I’d like to thank those of you who have agreed to continue your membership to the YMCA at this time (as well as the nice notes of support) – all greatly appreciated.

We have also received many inquiries about refunds between billing and closure date.  I can appreciate the request but will share that the Y is not in position to make cash refund payments at this time.  That said, as a non-profit and tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, we can and do issue charitable contribution tax letters for those who make donations.  In delving further into the rules, a donation is deemed to be a payment that exceeds the services being received.  I have checked with our tax accountants and payment of fees – Membership, Tuition, Program, etc. – where no service has been received in return due to the closure of the YMCA/Early Learning Center can be treated as a qualifying donation.  We will need to wait until we reopen in order to determine the amount to be covered by the letter for each Member but wanted you to be aware that this is something that the YMCA can do for you to recognize what you are doing for the YMCA.


MARCH 18, 2020: THE YMCA NEEDS YOUR HELP!

We ask that you “stay with us” and please do not freeze or cancel your membership.

Coronavirus Closure Updates

Membership

  • This is a very challenging and unsettling time for all of us.
  • The YMCA has been receiving calls from members requesting it to freeze or cancel their memberships while it is closed in order to protect the community and limit the spread of Corona Virus.
  • Please note that we are aggressively managing our expenses while trying our best to maintain our full staff/avoid layoffs by providing salary (on a reduced basis) and benefits continuation to assure that our staff can afford to keep themselves and their families’ safe and be available to serve you during this health emergency and afterwards.
  • Therefore, if it is at all possible for you, we ask that you please continue your Y membership and program enrollment. 
  • Alternatively, if you want to discontinue, we would appreciate a donation of some portion of your membership fee to support our staff.
    • If you wish to contact the Y about your membership or donation, please write to frontdesk@gwymca.org
  • I have every confidence that we, as a community, will get through this challenge. And when we do, we want to be in the best shape to support you and your family.
  • More details to follow in future updates but we have been working hard to protect and improve your facilities:
    • We have been cleaning and disinfecting both buildings
      • To paraphrase Rodgers and Hammerstein, “The halls are alive with the smell of disinfectant”
    • We have drained, cleaned, repaired and are refilling the Alumni Pool
    • Mechanical and Electrical work has begun on the Chiller and Olympic Dehumidification System
      • The Chiller has been drained while disassembly is in process in preparation for its removal as the new Chiller has been received by our contractors.   Dehumidification system is on order.

Early Learning Center

  • Operations temporarily suspended on March 12 (in conjunction with the Greenwich Public Schools (GPS).
  • We announced that we would follow the GPS schedule, which originally targeted a March 23rd reopening before Governor Lamont mandated that all schools and gyms remain closed until at least March 31.
  • The Early Learning Center will not open before that date.

YMCA at 50 East Putnam Avenue

  • Membership access temporarily suspended on March 13, extended to March 31 according to state mandate.
  • The earliest the facility may reopen is March 31, but that date may be extended.

It is the YMCA’s social responsibility to do its part to contain the virus for the safety of the community-at-large. We will continue to monitor guidance from federal, state, and local health authorities during this evolving national emergency to make sure that this plan is in the best interests of the health and safety of our members and staff.  We are also in communication with our YMCA National Office for guidance specific to our organization.

Y@HOME

In the meantime, we have been working diligently and swiftly to prepare a collection of online resources to assist you in keeping you and your family active during the temporary closure. We have updated our website to include information that you can use at home – fitness videos and guidance that will keep you connected to the Y experience. You can find these resources at http://www.greenwichymca.org/yhome-resources/

Please continue to check your emails, http://www.greenwichymca.org/ , or our Facebook page regularly for any updates through these channels in a timely manner to ensure you have the best information to plan accordingly.

I’d like to thank you for your continued membership to the YMCA and for your support of our mission to ensure family wellness. We are operating in uncharted waters at this point and doing our best to navigate a perfect storm of public health and financial crises.  I assure you that we at the Y are working tirelessly to keep our members, program participants, employees, and communities healthy and safe.


MARCH 13, 2020 – PM ANNOUNCEMENT

After a call with the Board of Directors of the YMCA and careful consideration during this ever-evolving situation with COVID-19, we are taking the prudent step of closing the YMCA until further notice.  Please note that we are not aware of any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the Y.

It is our current intention to align our reopening with the Town of Greenwich in general and the Greenwich Public School system in particular.  With the exception of the below regarding rental locker pick-up, no Member will be permitted in the building during our closure.

To take advantage during the closure period, we will be performing a deep cleaning of the Y so that it will sanitized and ready for our re-opening.  It is our goal to as much (if not all) of our Annual Shutdown work so that we minimize/eliminate the disruption in August.  Further, we are going to begin the preparation work for our Aquatics Capital Campaign projects.  Our Alumni Pool maintenance that was scheduled for April will be done during this closure.

As part of that cleaning process, we will be cleaning all lockers, including the overnight rentals.  On Saturday, March 14, between the hours of 9 AM – 3 PM, Members with rental lockers will be permitted to come to the Y, entering the building from the Mason Street parking lot, enter the locker room for 5 minutes and retrieve their items.  We strongly recommend that you sanitize your clothing and equipment before returning it to the locker upon our reopening.  If you are not available to come at that time, we will be removing the items (including returning towels to the bins), storing them in plastic bags with your locker identification number.  On Tuesday, March 17, between the hours of 10-12, Members who could not retrieve the items personally can come to the underground garage where staff will deliver your bag to you.  Please provide your Member ID and driver’s license so we can properly match the Member with their bag.

We have been in touch with our local non-profit partners to benchmark best practices during these unchartered times.  Many of our partners who are in different segments than ourselves have decided to remain open during this period and are providing valuable services to the community (e.g., meal delivery, food shopping, and errands for the elderly).  These service providers are short-staffed and would welcome volunteers who can assist in these endeavors.  We will periodically be posting these opportunities on our website during our closure.

Stay Safe and Healthy!


MARCH 12, 2020 

Your health and safety is our top priority. With the growing concern regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the YMCA of Greenwich is taking every precaution possible to ensure that we minimize your risk of exposure.

As with standard policy, due to the Greenwich Public School decision to close schools the following programs are currently CANCELLED:

  • Swim School Lessons
  • Youth Programs
  • ELC

Additionally, there will be NO AQUATIC TEAM PRACTICES or Child Watch/ Y Play availability.

The YMCA of Greenwich is not aware that any member or guest at any of our facilities has had any exposure to Coronavirus. However, we are currently limiting use of our facilities to YMCA of Greenwich Members only. Nationwide and Guest pass privileges are currently not available. These preventative steps are being taken out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and wellbeing of our community.

We thank you for your patience, understanding, and help in keeping the YMCA of Greenwich safe and healthy for you and your family.


MARCH 10, 2020

As your health and well-being are of paramount importance as well as one of the YMCA’s core missions is Healthy Living, we wanted share with you some background on the Coronavirus (or more specifically 2019 Novel Coronavirus {“2019-nCoV” or “COVID-19”} and how we are addressing.

I have been researching within the YMCA network and Greenwich Public Schools (“GPS”) as well as Greenwich and CT Departments of Health to get the latest information; the latter two organizations both defer/refer to CDC.  See the CDC link for 2019-nCoV – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/

At this time, current CDC status is – in the United States, there are a total of 647 cases across 36 states/District of Columbia with neighboring New York/Westchester County/New Rochelle being one of the concentration points.  There have been a total of 25 deaths.

That said, there are no state or local restrictions currently being applied in Greenwich, CT or NYS/NYC and NJ – where our members either live or work.  That said, the number of positive tests and quarantines in CT, NY and NJ are beginning to grow.  If you or your children attend a school/nursing home/other location that has been closed or had access restricted due to testing for COVID, we ask that you refrain from coming to the Greenwich YMCA until your school/nursing home/location reopens or the restrictions are lifted.  If any parents or children are diagnosed, we ask that you keep your child home from school and return when all persons in the household are symptom-free of the virus and no longer contagious.

In the case of our Early Learning Center, we will follow the schedule outlined by the GPS.

The CDC suggested guidelines for addressing COVID-19 include:

  • Stay home if ill
  • Clean and disinfect high traffic surfaces frequently
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
    • if not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
  • Sneeze into a tissue or sleeve (not hand)
  • If you have not already received, it is not too late to get a flu shot.

We strongly advocate that you follow the guidelines outlined above – they are basic measures that can minimize your chances of being infected, if exposed.

I also want you to be aware that we at the Greenwich YMCA are taking additional/supplemental steps that include:

  • Having our cleaning company concentrate on high-transmission surfaces (door knobs, hand rails, bleachers, etc.)
  • Staff will follow best practices and disinfect all surfaces, toys and materials on a daily basis.
  • The Wellness staff clean all workout benches/equipment every two hours
    • We have increased our frequency from our “normal” practice of every four hours.
  • Advocating the increased use of our disinfectant wipes and sanitizer
    • We appreciate if you would use before and after using weights, mats, equipment, etc.
    • We are increasing our inventory for both.
  • Continuing to maintain our pool chemical balance in accordance with state guidelines to assure non-transmission within the pool
    • Wear sandals/flip flops in pool area
  • Use your judgment/do not touch surfaces in steam room and sauna.

I will continue to monitor the situation for the Greenwich YMCA and keep you posted if anything changes.

Stay safe and healthy!