Here at the J, just like at home with each of you, there are no easy answers during this pandemic. There are many difficult choices that we are making daily, driven by a set of core values: to provide essential services to support the community and provide some access to our facilities in a safe and healthy environment.
As you are aware, last week, following the guidance from our Medical Advisory Task Force and recommendations from Harris County leadership, we have chosen to dial back our reopening plan, to play our part in reducing the curve of the pandemic. As a result, we have temporarily closed our Fitness Center, Indoor Tennis Center and Gymnastics facilities. Our goal is to reopen these areas as soon as possible, and we plan on providing you with an update the week of July 13. Meanwhile, we continue to provide our critical programs of Meals on Wheels; childcare at BAS, West Houston and Summer Fun for children of essential professionals; and are allowing our outdoor pool and tennis courts to remain open.
The Texas Department of Emergency Management has set up a walk-up COVID-19 testing site at the Merfish Teen Center, 9000 S. Rice, Monday-Friday from 8:30 AM-4:30 PM (or while testing supplies last). The self-administered test is free and available to everyone - no appointment necessary.
We hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy during these challenging times. We wanted to provide you with an important update regarding our facilities and programs. When we reopened on June 1, few could have imagined the magnitude of the health crisis we are now experiencing in Houston.
We hope that this note finds you and your family safe and healthy. The month of June has created many new and unexpected challenges for us all as we continue to search for ways to navigate our new reality which changes daily. As we have reopened our facilities throughout the month, we have been unsure about what to expect. Our Medical Advisory Group has been evaluating our protocols on a daily basis so that we are able to continue to provide you and your family as safe and healthy of a J experience as possible.
Writers in the Schools (WITS) offers NEW online classes open to members and the public! Creative Writing Camp Online sessions are taught by professional teachers and writers who have mastered the ability to layer social and emotional support for students through daily online instruction.
The safety and well-being of our community remains our first priority, and we appreciate our continued partnership with you to ensure a healthy and safe environment. With continued reports of a higher than desired amount of positive COVID-19 cases in Harris County, we must all stay vigilant.
These past few weeks, our pandemically traumatized nation was further shaken to its core by the death of George Floyd and the resurfacing of the centuries-old plague of systemic racism. "I can't breathe" wrenched our hearts as protesters took to the streets to demand justice and affirm that black lives matter. Jelani Cobb writes:
"The shock of revelation that attended the video of Floyd's death is itself a kind of inequality, a barometer of the extent to which one group of Americans have moved through life largely free from the burden of such terrible knowledge."
We are happy to announce that beginning Saturday, June 20, the J will offer weekend family recreational swim times. In order to participate, a reservation must be made ahead of time. Reservations are available beginning Thursday, June 18.
On behalf of the entire J staff and Board of Trustees, I hope that you and your family continue to be safe and healthy. We continue to see increased participation at the outdoor pool, tennis and fitness centers and look forward to seeing you soon. This week, for the first time since March 13, children and their parents were on the campus to meet and greet their teachers at the Bertha Alyce Early Childhood School. Our staff are looking forward to reopening our Early Childhood programs in West Houston and Bertha Alyce, along with gymnastics, tennis and our new Summer Fun at the J program.