covid

 

May 16, 2020
 
Dear Members,
 
The YMCA of the Chippewa Valley will be reopening our branches in a limited capacity beginning this coming week:
 
Monday, May 18 – John & Fay Menard YMCA Tennis Center opens
Tuesday, May 19 – Chippewa Falls YMCA opens
Wednesday, May 20 – Eau Claire YMCA opens
 
This staggered opening is happening because the Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire branches are finishing renovations that are being made for the safety of our members and staff, and training our staff on new procedures.
 
We have missed you! It’s been hard to be away from the people we care about but thank you for persevering and doing your part to stay safe and stop the spread of coronavirus.
 
Our doors may have been closed, but the Y hasn’t stopped serving the community. We’ve been hard at work providing emergency child care services to frontline workers, families, and our neighbors in need.
 
We’ve been carefully planning to reopen our facilities and reactivate key programs in the safest manner possible so you can access the services and support you miss and need the most.
 
The way we’ll interact with each other will be different, but at the Y, you’ll always be able to connect with people, improve your health and wellness, nurture your child’s potential, and help strengthen our community.
 
While we can’t predict how long the COVID-19 crisis will last, or whether it will be necessary to close facilities and programs again in the future, we are committed to doing whatever is necessary to ensure your safety. Your safety is our number one priority.
 
We’re following guidance from health experts and local officials to determine the safest way to serve everyone in our community. We’re doing everything possible to ensure our facilities meet the highest standards for hygiene and safety, and we have modified our policies and programs to facilitate safe physical/social distancing practices.
 
Please review these resources available here to learn what to expect when we reopen and how you can most safely return to the Y.

The Y isn’t a building. It’s people from all backgrounds and walks of life who come together to improve their lives, nurture their families and strengthen their community, together.
 
We’re so happy to welcome you back! Together, we’re a better us.
 
Sincerely,
Theresa Hillis, CEO


 

May 14, 2020

Thank you for your patience as we navigate these confusing times. We are working hard to respond to the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision that businesses can reopen immediately and watching for any further guidance from the local health departments. We have designed new safety protocols and procedures to enhance the safety of all our members for reopening. We are calling staff back to work and finalizing changes that are being made to our facilities to make it safer for our members to return.  We anticipate reopening to members in a reduced capacity sometime next week barring any further restrictions placed by state or local officials. 
 
As soon as our reopening date has been set, we will be emailing all of our members and posting the information on our website and social media accounts.  We will also be sharing videos that will help you know what to expect when reopen.
 
We look forward to welcoming you back into our facilities soon!


 

May 4, 2020

To all of our wonderful members, first of all, thank you for #StayingWithUs during these uncertain times. Your cause-driven membership while we’ve been closed has helped us continue to provide emergency child care during this crisis and also allowed us to work behind the scenes to get ready for when restrictions are lifted. This would not have been possible without your commitment to making a difference at a time when we are all questioning every personal and professional decision we make. We understand not all of our members have the capacity to do so and we appreciate you continuing to support us. Your choice helps the YMCA get through this time of distancing and allows us to safely reconfigure our spaces to welcome you back.
 
As we await the Governor's green light to re-open our buildings, I wanted to brief you on how we're getting ready. Our members, volunteers and staff safety are our top priority. Not only have we thoroughly cleaned and disinfected our facilities but we’ve put ramped up procedures in place to maintain a high level of custodial standards for reopening. We plan on opening in phases as we reinstate and train our team.  We will continue a rigorous daily cleaning schedule, and we've added sanitation stations so members will be able to wipe down equipment before and after each use.  
 
With mandated phased requirements from the state, we expect to see some restrictions in place with reopening, although as this is a continuing evolving process, currently we don’t have details, which means we are planning for most eventualities. There will be social distancing measures throughout the facility, like ensuring a six-foot spacing around equipment and workout stations. Until we are in the COVID-19 clear, we will require staff in our buildings to wear face masks, and everyone will be asked health screening questions. The member scanning process will be "touch-free." 
 
Initially, we will ask that everyone shower at home as locker rooms will be open for restroom use only. Locker rooms will be open for changing but locker usage will be restricted to members who have assigned lockers, due to our inability to continually clean lockers after usage. If allowed, we will open our pools, but saunas, jacuzzi and steam rooms will likely not open.  Social distancing will prevent activities like basketball and racquetball, for now.
 
Our popular group exercise classes will be limited due to physical distancing requirements. We await to see at what level we will be allowed to use our larger gyms for classes but will need to require registration to make sure we can keep safety limitations. We continue to offer Y360 online classes and will be rolling out classes from our own wonderful wellness instructors now. To get details, go to our newly revamped website at ymca-cv.org now. Also, look for the live workouts, activities, spiritual moments, and interactive opportunities each day on our Facebook page.  Visit our website and Facebook pages for the latest re-opening news. 
 
During this pandemic, like families, businesses and nonprofits, the YMCA has made several hard decisions. We indefinitely closed our Eau Claire Early Learning Center several weeks ago and this past Friday, we made the announcement that we will not be opening our historic Camp Manitou this summer. These decisions that affected our Y families were driven by an abundance of information as we tried to predict possible uncertain outcomes as we plan for coming back strong in 2021. Time will tell. 
 
As an organization that has been in the community for nearly 140 years, we thank you for continuing to support the YMCA --- monetarily and emotionally – as we move forward. We hope to see our YMCA family soon. Like families everywhere, while digital options help somewhat, we miss seeing each other face-to-face. Change is hard. We will get through it together, and we will be stronger. The YMCA is larger than physical space and location, it is connections we make as a community. We are a movement of cause-driven community members that respond when others need help.  Thank you! 

- Theresa Hillis, YMCA of the Chippewa Valley CEO


 

April 10, 2020

Since we’ve closed, we’ve sent out emails on March 16th, March 20th and April 1st with information regarding your membership in addition to our social media channels and addressing all member phone calls to our branches. We are providing emergency childcare services in Chippewa and Eau Claire and we have a core team working diligently to ensure that when we do re-open, we can continue to provide the same services and support for our members and community.  We hope our members will continue to invest in us to help make this happen.  All membership payments during our closure are considered donations and we gave all our members an opportunity to place their membership on hold at a reduced cost if the full price is not feasible at this time. We left it up to our members to reach out to us to make these changes and did not make any changes to those that had not contacted us.

We apologize if our communications have not reached you but here’s the Y can do moving forward. Request that your membership be placed on hold at no cost or for a small donation of $5 or $10 per month.  Once we re-open, your membership will automatically resume its normal status and you will not be charged a joiner’s fee. Send this request to: customerservice@ymca-cv.org


 

April 1, 2020 - Important Membership Information from our CEO:

​As a member of the YMCA of the Chippewa Valley, you are part of a movement to strengthen the foundations of our community. For nearly 140 years our goal has always been, and will continue to be, to fulfill the needs of those we serve. That remains especially true today.

In a moment when you may be feeling helpless in the face of our common health crisis, the Y is working to give you and our community a sense of shared purpose. Although our facilities are currently closed due to the crisis, our staff have been busy providing childcare to essential personnel, deep cleaning our facilities, managing virtual resources on social media and working with other agencies to band together to provide help in the battle against COVID-19. We're asking you to #stickwiththeY and maintain your membership to help support the programs and services we're still conducting to meet the needs of the moment and sustain us to be there for when we are able to open back up again.

If you can stick with the YMCA, please do so and thank you for that support. Your continued monthly draft during this time will be considered a donation and when normal operations resume, your donation will end and revert back to your regular membership. The YMCA will provide a tax receipt of your charitable donation prior to year-end.

However, we also understand people’s lives have been impacted in significant ways and not everyone has the capacity to continue their membership dues. If you cannot, let us know if you could do a $10 or $5 a month hold fee, which will hold your membership but at a lesser option. If you can’t do either of these, let us know that and we will place your membership on hold for no charge and we hope to see you back when you’re able.

If you decide to change your membership or go to a hold status, please let us know as soon as possible. We’re open for calls during business hours between 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. You can call the front desk at Eau Claire YMCA 715-836-8460 or Chippewa Falls YMCA at 715-723-2201 to ask to place your membership on hold or send an email to customerservice@ymca-cv.org with your name, address, first names of those on the membership and your decision. The YMCA will be able to assist you.

​We have had several supporters who have donated online to help additionally. If you are able to do so, thank you. You can click here to donate what you can to support our continued service. 

Please stay safe and as active you can at this time. Physical movement goes a long way to helping us through this crisis. Our Y360 videos and Facebook posts are available on our website and social media pages for you no matter what your decision. We look forward to the day when we all can join back together in a physical space but until then, we’re here in spirit for you to the best of our ability.

 

Theresa Hillis

Chief Executive Officer


 

March 20, 2020 - A letter to our members from our CEO:

Dear Y members,

The Y of the Chippewa Valley hopes you can continue your membership! 
 
Our entire community is coming to terms with the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus. We are navigating what short- and long-term impacts it will have in the Chippewa Valley and our own lives.

Here at the Y, while our facilities are closed for membership and programs, we are still operating child care programs for children ages birth-8 years in accordance with the Governor’s directives.  We will keep our child care programs open for those who have nowhere else to turn and those who are working in emergency, medical or other vital services.

Right now, except for child care services, program revenue is non-existent. The Y continues to pay rather significant fixed costs until we return to normal operations.

The Y needs your membership now even more than ever. Without it, our future is deeply uncertain. The Y is funded primarily through membership and program fees. As those disappear, so will the Y.
 
I am deeply proud of our team and of the resilience they have shown through this unprecedented crisis. Now I am asking for your help, too. The single biggest way for us to maintain stability is for you to maintain your Y membership through this crisis. Your membership fees would count as a charitable contribution for the period of time that we’re closed.

If you are a Silver Sneaker or Silver & Fit participant, please view one of our online fitness classes (www.eauclaireymca.org and www.chippewaymca.com) and then call or email the YMCA (Chippewa Falls: 715-723-2201, Eau Claire: 715-836-8460 or customerservice@ymca-cv.org) as we can still get credit for every visit you log in with.
 
Here is the reality of where we at this moment. We are a completely independent, locally-run, non-profit organization. We receive no funding from the national YMCA.

The temporary closure of our 5 facilities located in Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, and New Auburn, along with our over 17 school-based afterschool sites, has forced us to furlough great people including fitness instructors, front desk attendants, youth sports staff, lifeguards and swim instructors, afterschool staff, and many more you know and love.

Our leadership team is working around the clock to regroup and to preserve the guts of our operation for the long term, much less the next few weeks. Our intent is to bring back as many of our furloughed associates as possible, as soon as possible, but that all depends on how long this goes on and whether we have any resources left.

We are working closely with local and state agencies to keep our child care staff working. We are operating within strict licensing standards, consistently cleaning and sanitizing, and taking other precautions so our parents who work in necessary and vital services continue to have a safe place to put their children during the day. If you have friends, neighbors or coworkers who are in need of child care services, please contact our Child Care Team at the Chippewa Falls YMCA (715-723-5135) or the Eau Claire YMCA (715-836-8460).

If you’ve enjoyed all that the Y offers and brings to your family life in the past and look forward to returning to the Y you love, if at all possible, I hope you will please continue your membership. I say this fully aware of the fact that this situation has also impacted your family and very likely your work life as well.

Since the closure, we have been sharing on-line resources for staying healthy and active at home, including virtual group exercise classes, resources for kids and families, and babysitting and Youth Home Alone classes. Please look for those on your local Y’s Facebook page and look for updates on our websites.
 
Our members mean the world to us. Thank you for your participation in the Y now and always. Please stay safe and healthy.

Theresa Hillis

Chief Executive Officer


 

March 16, 2020 - Closure announcement from our CEO

To our Members and Supporters,

In a rapidly changing environment with government announcements of closures of schools, businesses and an increased need to protect our community, the YMCA of the Chippewa Valley has been striving to continue to do what we’ve done for nearly 140 years, to be there for people. We have been there in times of crisis before and we will continue to do so moving forward. Currently, we serve nearly 21,000 people in the Chippewa Valley.

As we continue to take action to minimize the risk to our YMCA community and members of the public, we have an important announcement. Due to today’s federal recommendation announced at the President’s news conference, at the end of business on Monday, March 16, our YMCA wellness centers, pools and programs will be closed through the anticipated school opening on April 6, with the exception of YMCA Child Care.  It is probable that this date might change as we learn more on the fight against community spread of coronavirus.

Child Care: To help mitigate the spread and risk of exposure of COVID-19, WI Governor Evers announced the closure of all schools (kindergarten to grade 12), effective the end of day on Wednesday, March 18. The ECASD announced they will be closing earlier at the end of the day today. Chippewa Falls schools will close at the end of the day tomorrow.

At this time, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services is recommending that all Child Care programs remain open as a vital resource for many first responders, health care workers and families who cannot find care elsewhere. As result, both YMCA Early Learning Centers will remain open and YMCA Schools Out programs for elementary children will be held at the Chippewa Falls YMCA and the L.E. Phillips Indoor Sports Center in Eau Claire.

We are closely working with community leaders and will continue to communicate with you on when we will reopen. In the meantime, we hope that you continue to invest in your membership so that we can maintain vital life-changing at the Y. We know your membership is meaningful to you and is based upon how much you care about our community. We hope you can continue to support the Y through this crisis, so we are ready to meet those emergency needs, and continue to support all who need us once life returns to normal. To make a donation to support our continued work in our community, you can give online for use in Eau Claire or Chippewa Falls. Thank you for your support as we work diligently to ensure the health and safety of our community.

To support your health and wellbeing goals we are offering Y360, an exciting new YMCA on-demand fitness program for adults and kids to do at home. You and your family can exercise together and have some fitness fun! Soon, additional content for kids and families will be added. You can access it today at Y360 On-Demand.

In times of crisis, it is important that we work together to support each other. The YMCA stands ready to do that in any way we can. Let us pray that we all be given wisdom, strength and courage in the coming days and weeks.

 

With a heavy heart,

Theresa Hillis

Chief Executive Officer


 

March 13, 2020 - Letter to all Afterschool Child Care Families
 

Dear Parents and Guardians,

The YMCA is committed to the health and safety of our children, staff and families. With the rapidly changing environment in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are experiencing staff shortages due to university closings and health precautions with our older staff who are at-risk.

Due to these factors, beginning Monday, March 16th we are moving the Chippewa after school program to the Chippewa YMCA facility site (611 Jefferson Ave, Chippewa Falls). At this time, we can no longer staff the programs at our local schools. We are working on transportation issues with the bus company and should have more information for you Monday.

Due to health concerns, our health policy will be strictly enforced. Individuals who meet any of the following criteria must refrain from entering our childcare program: 

  • Anyone whose family members have traveled to a country for which the CDC has issued a Level 2 or 3 travel designation (currently South Korea, Iran, Italy, China, Japan) within the last 14 days.
  • Have had contact with any Persons under Investigation (PUIs) for COVID-19 within the last 14 days, OR with anyone with known COVID-19.
  • Anyone having any symptoms of a respiratory infection (e.g., cough, sore throat, fever, or shortness of breath).

We apologize for the last minute announcement to our families. As you know, it is a rapidly changing environment and there might be further changes coming depending on local, state and federal announcements. We will be communicating this via email and with notices posted on our website and Facebook page.

We appreciate your cooperation and understanding during this time. We will continue to provide updates as we receive information.

Sincerely,

Caroline Wee

Association Childcare Services Director


 

March 13, 2020 - Letter to all Early Learning Center Families:

Dear YMCA – Early Learning Community Families,

The health and safety of our children, families and staff are very important to us. We are formulating a contingency plan to make sure we are able to continue care as long as possible and/or have a plan in place if more serious conditions occur. With the possibilities of school districts closing, we are aware of the even more overwhelming need of childcare.

We are doing our part to keep our center clean and sanitary during this time. The YMCA has added more sanitizer stations throughout the building, including in childcare. We will be disinfecting our toys, shelves and classrooms in a more frequent manner. As always, we remain diligent on washing hands, cleaning and sanitizing. 

Due to the health concerns, our health policy will be more strictly enforced. This means that we will be asking that children be picked up and brought home if symptoms of even minor illness appear.

As many of you know, UWEC has decided to shut down classes. Many of our staff members are college students at UW-Eau Claire and other colleges. With the closing of campuses, some of our staff are choosing to return home to their families. It is very possible we may experience staff shortages during this time. For the time being, we have the staff we require to provide care to all our families. If we reach a point where a staff shortage is a possibility, we ask that families who have the ability to keep children home to please do so. Any volunteered absence will not be charged for care.

We will continue with communication regarding any changes or plans being implemented. If staff shortages begin to occur, certain actions will need to be taken to make sure we are complying with licensing to provide safe care for our children. 

The YMCA Early Learning Centers will remain open as long as we can assure the safety of the children in our program. We thank you for your patience in this difficult time as we navigate new obstacles. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

 

Sincerely,

Caroline Wee

Association Childcare Director


 

March 6, 2020 - Letter to all Members:

Dear YMCA Members,

At the YMCA of the Chippewa Valley, we take your health and safety very seriously. The respiratory illness COVID-19 has now reached the United States. When a serious health issue arises, our staff team comes together to reassess our strategies to keep our members and staff healthy.

We understand people may worry about the new Coronavirus. In today’s connected world, an outbreak anywhere can be a risk everywhere. Risk is dependent on exposure. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) considers COVID-19 a serious situation and advises taking preparedness measures. Currently, the best way to protect our health and well-being is to practice the same basic hygiene that we do for flu season. Everyone should always take simple daily precautions to help prevent the spread of all respiratory illnesses:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap or use a hand sanitizer that contains alcohol.
  • Sneeze and cough into tissues. If you get mucus or spit on your skin, clean it off right away. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, especially people exhibiting respiratory symptoms and fever.
  • Stay home when you’re sick.

Regularly and thoroughly clean surfaces, such as countertops and doorknobs, with a disinfectant.

The coronavirus is spread through respiratory vapor, such as when someone sneezes or coughs into the air around you. Influenza viruses and common cold viruses are also spread this way. More information about the Coronavirus can be found at www.cdc.gov

At the YMCA of the Chippewa Valley, these are some precautions and actions that we are initiating:

  • We are asking members who may be ill with any contagious condition (i.e. fever) to stay home and return to the Y when they are feeling better.
  • As has been the policy, children in our Early Learning Centers, School-Age Child Care and Kids Care programs are required to stay out of programs a minimum of 24 hours after being deemed symptom free.
  • Additional hand sanitizer stations will be available to all. We will also make more antibacterial wipes available throughout the branches and at our off-site locations.
  • We are asking all members to use the disinfectant products we provide to clean equipment BEFORE and AFTER workouts.
  • Staff will be cleaning doorknobs, light switches, countertops, equipment, handles, weights, etc. regularly.

In this time pf preparedness, we are trying our best to think ahead. If you think of something that can help or have questions, please contact your program or branch director directly to help us do better together.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation!

Theresa Hillis, CEO