Safety and Sustainability in the face of COVID-19

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

COVID-19 has affected every aspect of life as we know it, and it’s no different for Seagull Services. The agency had begun a heightened regimen of deep cleaning in early March as staff became aware of potential challenges facing providers of services to individuals with disabilities, many of whom have compromised immunity.  Despite those measures, both the programs for adults at Seagull’s headquarters and Seagull’s charter school closed in mid-March.
“I am proud to say that Seagull has taken every measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep our program participants as well as the staff as safe as possible,” said Dan Stanislawczyk, President and CEO of Seagull Services. “I am also proud to say that within a matter of weeks we were able to resume many programs online.” 
Thanks in part to some generous grants that provided needed technology, Seagull Academy for Independent Living (SAIL) was able to resume its academic, life skills and pre-employment programs within a matter of weeks. 
“One of our challenges was ensuring that every student enrolled at Seagull Academy for Independent Living (SAIL) had access to the internet, either through a computer, tablet or phone,” Stanislawczyk said. “We were fortunate to receive some grants that allowed us to purchase several computers for both the student and adult programs. Students who didn’t have devices to access lessons were provided with a computer to use through the end of the semester. We’re very grateful to the organizations that provided us with emergency grants to help us operate through this difficult time.”
Seagull extends heartfelt gratitude to Frances Cheney and the McCarty Cheney Foundation, the Mirasol Foundation, the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties, and the Town of Palm Beach United Way for emergency grants. 
At SAIL, teachers used Zoom and Microsoft Teams for online classes. They were able to break down lessons into very short segments, and because of SAIL’s already low teacher-student ratio, work with the students in very small groups. 
The school year culminated in a virtual graduation ceremony that also included recognition of outstanding students in all classes. 
Seagull Services also has continued its Supported Employment Program through online meetings with job coaches. In fact, some of Seagull’s program participants who were working in essential services have continued to work throughout Palm Beach County’s shut-down.
Last month, Seagull’s staff launched an online program for participants in its Adult Day Program. The staff has created a series of videos for a program called “Seagull Virtual Lessons.” Using the staff’s varied skill set, they created several videos to instruct and entertain the participants. The series includes exercise videos, crafting videos and cooking videos.
Although it’s not ideal as the participants miss out on the social interaction they enjoyed together in the Achievement Center, it provides a way for them to remain engaged from the safety of their homes. 
Seagull Services is working on plans to safely welcome back its adult program participants in the coming weeks. 

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