Minnesota allows reopening of day programs for people with disabilities

State officials are reopening some key programs that serve Minnesotans with disabilities.

Starting Monday, people who live in group homes and other congregate care facilities can once again attend day service programs. Many of those programs have been closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services announced the move Sunday, along with new guidelines for providers. Under the reopening guidelines, providers are required to have a COVID-19 preparedness plan to protect participants and staff.

“Nothing is more important to us than the health of all Minnesotans – including emotional and social health,” Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead said in a news release. “My team and I have remained focused on turning the dial, as much as is prudent given the health risks, to get these providers back in service of the people they support.”

People will not be allowed to attend a day service program if they have had exposure to COVID-19 in the previous 14 days.

DHS said there are about 300 day service program locations in Minnesota, serving about 6,000 people a month. Some had offered remote services over the past few months.

State officials had previously allowed the partial reopening of in-person programs, for people who live in their own homes. The latest change reopens the programs to residents of group homes and other facilities.

“Recent decreases in COVID-19 cases in group homes across the state, as well as Minnesota Department of Health guidance, helped us decide that this is the right time to reopen services for all,” Harpstead said.

State officials noted that people with disabilities "have the right to make an informed choice about whether they want to return to a day service facility," based on underlying health conditions and other factors.

DHS said remote services will continue for people not able to attend in-person programs.

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