We know that everyone is anxious to return to the farm, and we are equally anxious to get back to serving clients! As we navigate a return to on-farm programming, our priority is safety. We recognize that COVID-19 will be a part of our lives for the foreseeable future, and will require some significant changes in how the farm operates. As always, the health and well-being of our clients, staff, volunteers, and horses remains our highest priority, and we appreciate your cooperation in helping us continue to make the farm a safe and welcoming environment to all.
Our biggest challenge with social distancing lies in keeping our clients safe during interactions with horses. Our instructors, therapists, equine specialists and volunteers need to be in very close proximity to many of our participants in order to offer these unique services and programs. And in many cases, we are often in direct physical contact with our clients; or are required to be in the case of an emergency. While it may appear as though we are an “outdoor activity” that can fall easily within the lines of what is allowed and possible, we are rarely 6' away from our clients, or each other. We are doing our best to flex, evolve and innovate so that we can continue to offer quality services and programs; and to ensure that everyone stays healthy while enabling our clients to benefit from time with horses.
ACCESS is at the heart of NCTRC’s core values - Acceptance, Collaboration, Community, Excellence, Sincerity, and Stewardship. NCTRC has a long history of serving clients with a wide spectrum of disabilities and challenges, and although we are not able to reopen at full capacity, we are committed to ensuring equal opportunities for all of our clients to return to the farm. We will not be prioritizing return based upon the level of support needed; we are instead modifying our programming to support as many clients as possible being able to return safely. All clients will be asked to complete a survey regarding the benefits they receive, which services will be most beneficial, their comfort level, etc. This survey will determine at which phase of reopening each client is able to return, and new programming opportunities that may be appropriate for them to try. Volunteers will also be asked to complete a survey regarding their comfort levels, and we are soliciting feedback from our staff on an individual basis so that we can assess support levels available.
We have done our very best to create a comprehensive operating plan with assistance from Kimberly Powers, PhD, A2O Coaching Ltd, the Orange County Health Department, other PATH centers across the country, and a host of other consultants. However, we know without a doubt that some of these policies and procedures will have to change as they are tested by "real world" use, and we ask for your patience as we all navigate a world that is new to all of us (we would love to hear your ideas and suggestions as well - this is definitely a time for creative and crowd-sourced solutions!). We do reserve the right to change this plan at any time as we deem necessary for the safety of all, and we will adhere to any changes in the local, state, or federal guidelines relating to COVID-19.
Each of our clients, volunteers, staff members, and families face unique challenges and risk profiles with regards to COVID-19, and we absolutely respect the decision of any participant who does not yet feel safe returning to the farm. Those individuals will not lose the opportunity to participate in the future. We do expect to reopen at limited capacity due to the additional sanitizing and equipment needs, and if demand for services exceeds our initial capacity, clients will be accommodated on a lottery basis. Returning clients will be prioritized to receive services over new clients.
In the event that COVID-19 exposure is traced to, or related to, someone working or attending a session at our facility, the following will occur:
-mandatory 2 week hiatus from our facility from the start date of symptoms or positive COVID-19 test, whichever is later-
-negative test results will be required prior to returning to the facility for all household members-
-anyone who was potentially exposed at our facility will be notified of the potential exposure; names will not be released-
Due to the nature of our organization (animals requiring 24/7/365 care) and the size of our team, these instances will likely lead to cancellation of ALL programming at our facility for the duration of two weeks (or longer), especially in the event of a core staff member being exposed.