Looking to Thanksgiving in a Pandemic

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To: All Members of the Community Systems, Inc. Community

FR: Janet Butler, CEO/President

Holiday gatherings and the pandemic

As we approach the holiday season, the issues and concerns of the pandemic are forefront in my mind and plans.  Since March, CSI has prioritized limiting any potential exposure to COVID 19 as the approach to help keep everyone in the CSI Family as safe and health as possible.  We are now faced with the time of the year that families want to come together.

The holiday plans are concerning. The increase in COVID cases across the country is at a level that has not been seen since the virus hit. Experts are recommending we avoid holiday gatherings other than with immediate families from within one household.  I believe if we require the people CSI supports to remain in their household, and avoid family contact, it could be stressful for some of the people CSI supports and their families.  But we need to recognize it would be the best approach and if at all possible, should be followed.

Each situation will be reviewed on a case by case bases.  CSI is responsible to evaluate whether an event will present a risk to the other people in the home and our employees.  Each situation will also have guidelines for how the person can return to the home.  The guidelines may mean quarantine, testing, isolation, etc. related to level of exposure risk.

I fully recognize that the past seven month has worn on people tremendously.  That does not mean we should ignore the science now when all indicators show the US is struggling with the highest level of new cases and  CSI has experienced an increase in the number of positive cases over the past weeks.  The positive cases have been with CSI employees and have been isolated and not spread to other staff or the people supported.  This is affirmation that if you follow the processes we have in place, it is helping to contain contracting the disease and keeping people safe.

The processes are simple:  Limit the number of people you come in contact with, disinfect, wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, and test!!  CSI MA DDS has required ongoing biweekly testing for COVID of all employees.  That testing has revealed a positive, asymptomatic employee who we could pull out of the workforce to protect those they support.

CSI has developed guidelines for Thanksgiving.  All employees, the people supported and their families are asked to follow the guidelines.  These guidelines are being shared now, but should the spread of the pandemic warrant, they may need to be revised before Thanksgiving.

CSI Thanksgiving Guidelines

  1. Avoid gatherings where possible.  Keep the number of people around you to the lowest number of people possible. The ideal would be only gatherings of members from the same household.
  2. Should a family make the decision  a person CSI supports will go to a family gathering or should an CSI employee choose to attend a gathering outside of their immediate household we ask that the following guide the event.  CSI will be asking very specific questions prior to Thanksgiving visits to enable an evaluation of risk, criteria to return to a CSI support, and to help with contact tracing should a positive case surface.
  3. No more than 10 people attend the gathering
  4. No more than 3 households should gather with the person supported counting as one household, the host a second.
  5. Avoid families from multiple communities
  6. Avoid out of state visitors
  7. Avoid people from any communities “in the red”.
  8. There should be no people at the gathering with any symptoms or recent history of exposure to someone with positive COVID.
  9. Avoid people who are employed in areas with a high risk of exposure.
  10. Gather outside if possible.
  11. Avoid physical contact
  12. Wear masks.
  13. Maintain social distance,
  14. Sanitize and disinfect

As you can see, the advice is that the ideal situation would be only gatherings of members from the same household.  If more than one household, members from the same community.  Avoid all communities or states that are in the red.

I deeply appreciate the support and commitment of all in the CSI Community that has led to CSI’s positive results.  Those positive results do not overshadow that we a positive cases that spread to three people living in a home and four staff and we had a wonder woman CSI supported die after a long battle with COVID that she caught from a visiting nurse.

The threat is real, and we have to stay diligent to keep everyone safe and help contain this health threat.

With my deepest respect and thanks.  I hope we can all continue to have a festive Thanksgiving.

CDC Recommendations:


Thanksgiving is a time when many families travel long distances to celebrate together. Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you must travel, be informed of the risks involved.

Lower risk activities

  • Having a small dinner with only people who live in your household
  • Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others
  • Having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family
  • Shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home

Moderate risk activities

  • Having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing
  • Attending a small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place

Higher risk activities

Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:

  • Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving
  • Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race
  • Attending crowded parades
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household

Janet Butler
Community Systems, Inc.
6 Benjamin Nye Circle
Pocasset, MA 02559
Office: 703 448 0606