STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – The city’s community center has begun to host in-person events for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Residents can choose from dance classes, reading groups and craft events as of March 3, 2021. City residents can participate confidently in these events due to the safety measures city officials have implemented to keep them safe.
Parks and Recreation Director Kyle Langlois said the community center requires all employees to fill out health assessments and record their temperature daily to try and gauge if anybody is ill. He also encourages employees to stay home if they have a cold or a sore throat to not risk overlooking symptoms.
The community center has also been working under a limited staff to try and reduce the amount of people entering the building and to make contact tracing simpler. Also, instead of the required six feet of social distancing, Langlois encourages his staff to enforce eight feet of social distancing so that if someone moves slightly, they do not jeopardize the health and safety of others.
“From the start we said we are going to follow the restrictions to a tee,” said Langlois. “When everything was closing, we made sure that we shut everything down that was necessary and as guidelines continue to loosen we took that opportunity to re engage, but in a modified manner.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported 29,552,459 cases of COVID-19 in the United States and 538,261 deaths since the start of the pandemic. According to Michigan.Gov, there were 624,811 cases of COVID-19 throughout the state of Michigan and 15,897 deaths as of March 21, 2021. Throughout Macomb county there have been 59,529 cases of COVID-19 and 1,900 deaths. Even though the case numbers had been on a downward trend, the return of indoor activities could potentially cause a rise in cases.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Daniel Havlichek said the danger of indoor activities at places like the community center is in the details, but that if the recommended safety measures from the state are taken, these activities are not any more dangerous than attending school or work.
Havlichek said the main concerns he would have would be people coming to the center while ill or a mutation in the virus as mutation variants are beginning to spike up at this time.
“I’m quite sure the officials that are running these centers are responsible and are doing the right thing, and wouldn’t be opening them up if not because it’s a sort of a governmentally sponsored organization,” said Havlichek. “They wouldn’t be opening it up if they didn’t have approval from the right people to do this.”
Jen Kraemer, a dance instructor for the community center for 25 years, said she feels great about being able to return to instruction in the community center. The city actually started running these classes outside at their amphitheater. They used blue social distancing dots on the floor, so the children had to stand six feet apart and the class sizes were small to accommodate the social distancing.
When the community center re-opened classes continued inside and dance groups followed the same protocols. Smaller class sizes were enforced based on room sizes. Each class was about 45 minutes, and after each class instructors used ultraviolet lights to be able to deeply clean the room.
“You can’t see the smile on their faces underneath the mask, but you can tell that they’re really enjoying being back and knowing they have a goal in mind,” said Kraemer.