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Letter from the Executive Director – Reopening Announcement in Response to COVID-19

We hope this letter finds you and your family in good health. Our communities in Virginia have seen many changes over the past few months. We are looking forward to resuming our normal routines and activities. While many things have changed, two things remain the same: NAMI Virginia’s commitment to your safety and staying true to our mission to promote recovery and improve the quality of life of Virginians living with serious mental illness through support, education, and advocacy.

During the reopening transition, NAMI Virginia is following recommendations from Governor Ralph Northam, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plus every other reliable piece of data available. This allows us to make the best decisions and provide the safest environment for our staff, affiliates, members, and the community.

Governor Northam’s reopening plan is a phased approach. Phase I is active now. Phase II begins on June 5th with a 2 to 4-week transition period before phase III begins. Under phase II, organizations are asked to continue telework if it does not put a hardship on the organization. In honor of this request, NAMI Virginia will continue to telework through Friday, 6/19 with an office reopen date of 6/22. NAMI Virginia will reopen in a manner that promotes safety with office reopening procedures in place that include staggered staffing, social distancing, disinfecting work stations and common areas, hand sanitizers, scheduled appointments to come to the NAMI Virginia office, and a brief COVID-19 questionnaire. The 6/22 office reopen date will not change unless an upward curve occurs as Governor Northam’s phases I and II progress.

What does this mean for affiliates and NAMI in-person programs across Virginia? Governor Northam’s Phase II plan allows for gatherings of 50 or more with face coverings and 6-foot social distancing. Under Phase II, NAMI Virginia affiliates could presumably start offering in-person support groups and programs for 50 or fewer people starting as early as 6/5. NAMI Virginia members should check with their local affiliate to find out when in-person activities will resume.

NAMI Virginia understands that affiliate leaders know and recognize the needs of their local communities better than we do. With safety at the forefront of all decisions, NAMI Virginia affiliate leaders will make their own decisions on reopen dates for their offices, in-person groups, and programs based on community circumstances and needs. In deciding on a reopen date, the CDC recommends businesses ask the following three questions and should consider reopening if they can answer “yes” to all three questions. 1) Are you in a community no longer requiring significant mitigation? 2) Will reopening be in compliance with state and local orders? 3) Will you be ready to protect employees at higher risk for severe illness? (e.g. teleworking, tasks that minimize contact)?

Upon request, NAMI Virginia will provide data and share state office reopening procedures to assist affiliates in their decision making however, the final reopen date for in-person activities falls to each affiliate. Online support groups and programs will remain available to meet the needs of those we serve.

As always, we are here to serve and assist. Thank you for being a part of the NAMI Virginia family. We value and trust your loyalty and are looking forward to returning to normal office operations.

Together we make a difference!

Kathy Harkey, MAPP, BSP, MSMDS

Executive Director

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