New COVID-19 Prevention Protocol

In accordance with new CDC guidelines Stone Belt is revising its COVID-19 prevention measures. Because significant numbers of clients and staff have reached full vaccination status, we are able to take these steps. However, continued safety measures are necessary because some clients and staff are not vaccinated.  We are using the CDC guidelines for Choosing Safer Activities to guide this new protocol and to determine what activities are safe, less safe, or least safe for unvaccinated clients.

New protocol effective June 1, 2021:

According to the Indiana Board of Health, masks are still required for staff and visitors in all group homes, so the protocol is unchanged in group homes until it is changed by the Indiana Board of Health.  

Staff and visitors in common areas of any building, including hallways, breakrooms, restrooms etc, must continue to wear a mask and maintain social distance.

In all other programs the following guidelines apply.

  • In any group setting where any client is not vaccinated, or where the vaccination status of a client is unknown, masks must continue to be worn by staff and by clients that will tolerate wearing a mask. Social distancing should continue in these settings.

o   The manufacturing program will continue to follow the mask protocol for now as we consider how we can make the changes necessary for unvaccinated clients.

  • In any group setting where all clients present are known to be fully vaccinated, masks and social distancing are not required. Masks will continue to be available to any staff or client that chooses to wear one. Social distancing is not required in these settings.

o   Lifelong Learning will have some classrooms and community activities where masks will not be required. Program coordinators will assist clients and staff with the status of each activity.

  • In one-on-one activities, a fully vaccinated staff member working alone is not required to wear a mask regardless of the vaccination status of the client being supported. If the client is not vaccinated and is mask tolerant, they should continue to wear a mask and avoid activities that are considered less safe, or least safe.
  • In settings where clients are not present, including meetings and offices, staff should use the CDC guidelines for Choosing Safer Activities. Masks will continue to be available in these settings for staff for whom masks are recommended, or who otherwise choose to wear them.
  • In any activity with a client in a community setting, the client(s) and staff should follow the rules of that setting in addition to any prevention measures described in this protocol.
  • Universal precautions that were in effect prior to COVID-19 remain in effect at all times.
  • Additional safety protocols, such as enhanced PPE, will continue to be used in cases where a client has an active or suspected case of COVID-19.

Gradual Reopening and Criteria to Resume Services

Stone Belt's reopening of services will be done in a planned and gradual manner to minimize the risk of any person becoming ill with COVID-19. Beginning with clients in Stone Belt’s Supported Living program, where staff can most readily be redeployed to the day programs, services have or will resume according to the following schedule:

May 1 
Clients from the SLP program began to return to the manufacturing program in small numbers to facilitate a smooth transition and time for needed training on safety procedures

Limited 1:1 community-based activities resumed where safety could be assured.

May 18
Limited community-based habilitation for individuals or groups of 3:1 will resume in all service locations. Additional clients from the SLP program or from family homes continued to be added to the manufacturing program, including the Bedford program.

June 1
Facility-based Lifelong Learning programs for identified individuals on a 4:1 will resume on a pre-determined schedule. Those identified as being able to return first meet the following criteria:

  • Do not have underlying health conditions or age concerns that would put them at greater risk if they contract the virus.
  • Are able to comply with social distancing requirements that will be in place, including staying within a designated program area.
  • Will wear a mask or facial covering and will comply with handwashing and other hygienic practice as will be required.
  • Have transportation.  Note: this will continue until Stone Belt and Rural Transit come to an agreement on what transportation can be offered safely and affordably. Clients can use other forms of public transportation but must adhere to the safety practices in place on those conveyances.

After June 1
Additional clients will be added as staff and space permits. Capacity to serve individuals from Stone Belt’s Supported Group Living program will be reserved. Criteria for return may change as the community risk of infection decreases.

Until the threat of the virus has passed, capacity for the number of clients that return to services will be limited by the availability of staff to provide the services, and the space available to meet social distancing requirements. Clients’ budget allocations may also restrict the hours of service in which they can participate.

Higher-risk clients will be added when safety requirements are relaxed per the Governor’s plan and in accordance with the Center for Disease Control’s guidance and/or federal mandates, such as those on long-term care facilities.

Safety Procedures

Client-to-staff ratios - The ratio of clients to staff for Lifelong Learning programs will be maintained at 4:1 for facility-based activities and no more than 3:1 for community-based activities. These ratios allow for the proper social distancing within the facilities and vans. 

Manufacturing services may operate at up to a 10:1 ratio as long as space allows for social distancing and participants can comply with health and safety procedures such as frequent hand-washing and wearing their masks. It is likely that smaller ratios will prevail for an indeterminate period of time.

Employment programs will primarily continue 1:1 ratios. Pre-Employment Transition Services and Project SEARCH (when it resumes) may offer face-to-face services in small groups by following all safety requirements. All appropriate safeguards will be followed, including those specified by a person’s employer.

Social Distancing
Each program will work to ensure social distancing to our fullest potential at all times. Each work area/classroom will strive to ensure adequate spacing (6 feet) between each participant and staff. Visual cues will be marked on floors to indicate social distancing to be maintained.

Until it is deemed safe to do otherwise, Lifelong Learning program participants will remain in one room throughout the program day, including for lunches and breaks. For Manufacturing, social distancing will be maintained while accessing lockers/storage and while moving to and from the break area

Use of restrooms will be restricted to one person at a time in Lifelong Learning programs and to two persons at a time for workshop facilities. Restroom surfaces will be wiped down frequently throughout the day.

Symptom monitoring
Each program will have a system of symptom monitoring for clients and staff that may include temperature checks upon arrival and a checklist screening of COVID-19 symptoms. Any participant who has a temperature of 100°F or higher and/or displays any of the symptoms listed above will not be permitted to attend day services and will be sent home to consult their healthcare provider.

Documentation of this monitoring will be kept on paper or electronically.  Care will be taken during symptom monitor that staff has appropriate protective equipment and clients have separated space if they have to wait to be checked in.

Any person that presents with symptoms during the day will immediately be moved to a designated and monitored isolation area away from other participants until they are picked up.

Designated entrances
Each program will have a designated entrance place to the program area.  Staff will perform symptom monitoring at or near that sight and will reinforce social distancing upon arrival and discharge.

Front desks at facilities will not be fully staffed in the initial stages of the reopening plan. Team members with appointments with clients will need to make meeting arrangements through the person’s supervisory staff.

Face Masks
Clients will be required to wear a cloth face mask, which they may bring or will be provided. Stone Belt provided masks will be safely collected at the door and laundered daily. Staff will help monitor that face masks are worn properly. A labeled zip-lock bag or another sanitary option will be provided for safe storage during breaks and lunch.

Hand Hygiene
Hand washing is required for staff and participants no less than 2 times a day, in addition to the initial handwashing required upon arrival. Hand washing should follow the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will be posted in each restroom, classroom, and work area. Additional handwashing stations will be utilized in classroom spaces. As needed, staff will supervise and provide instructions on appropriate hand washing. Hand sanitizer will be available in all rooms. Use will be encouraged between hand washings.

Personal items
Clients are asked to limit personal items brought to the program areas to minimize the possible viral spread and reduce needed trips to storage areas or lockers.

  • Lunches should be brought in insulated bags or containers that do not require refrigeration. Use of a microwave is discouraged, but if used, must be sanitized between users.
  • Games, art supplies, and similar items used in classrooms cannot be shared without proper sanitation.
  • Medications will be administered during day program hours per established procedures.

Sanitation procedures
As per our Business Safeguards, each classroom/work area will have all shared spaces and high touch surfaces cleaned before and after operating hours as well as throughout the program day where feasible. Equipment and materials used in the classrooms will be sanitized after each use. Vans will be cleaned before and after each trip.

Sanitation supplies will be safely stored and available in each area and vehicle. A commercial disinfectant from our vendor is in ready supply from our vendor. The maintenance department will replenish supplies of disinfectant and towels regularly. 

Restrictions on administrative staff
All administrative staff working in a facility that provides programming may continue to work remotely as much as possible, or, if not in direct contact with clients in the program areas, may work out of their offices. Until conditions are relaxed, administrative staff should only interact with client groups in passing and at a safe social distance. Traveling through classroom areas should be avoided by using alternative entrances as needed. Staff needing access to the Records or Financial offices may enter through the warehouse entrance using the door code. Office staff shall wear provided masks when leaving their immediate office area or if sharing an office with another staff where social distancing cannot be maintained.

Individual Client Meetings in a Facility
Stone Belt has identified space and methods for clients to receive individualized 1:1 services from a support team member including therapists, behavior clinicians, and case managers while the client is in a day services facility. The team members will notify the coordinator or manager of the day service when they are present and plan to meet with the individual so the meeting can be arranged. 

Stone Belt requests that team meetings continue to be held through an on-line platform such as Zoom until the viral threat has subsided and it is deemed safe to have group meetings. Exceptions to this may be made by a Stone Belt program director at the request of the team.

Staff Training
Prior to reopening, staff working in all Stone Belt day service locations will have training on the following:

  • Social distancing
  • Isolation area per site
  • Cleaning routine
  • Universal precautions
  • Staff arrival/dismissal plan
  • Client arrival/dismissal plan
  • Symptom tracking
  • Visitor restrictions
  • Handwashing
  • Ratios
  • Putting on/removing PPE

Potential re-closures due to a future outbreak
As the situation warrants, Stone Belt may find it necessary to close all or part of a program. This might be due to exposure to a client or staff with COVID-19 or symptoms of the virus, or in response to community outbreaks. Stone Belt will use information from the Indiana State Department of Health or the CDC for guidance as well as local government recommendations.

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IN this together


Staff voices during COVID-19 Response




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Stone Belt Arc is the local chapter of The Arc in Monroe County. The Arc is committed to all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities realizing their goals of living, learning, working and fully participating in the community. The combined strength of local Arcs, The Arc of Indiana and The Arc of the United States makes The Arc the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Learn more about The Arc by visiting and

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