Senior Centers

General Guidance 

  • Review and update pandemic influenza preparedness plans. Follow outlined plans. 
  • Know where to find local information on COVID-19 and local trends of COVID-19 cases. 
  • Know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and what to do if organization members/staff become symptomatic. 
  • Identify safe ways to serve those that are at high risk or vulnerable (outreach, assistance, etc.). 
  • Review, update, or develop emergency plans for the organization, especially consideration for individuals at increased risk of severe illness. 
  • Encourage staff and members to stay home and notify organization administrators of illness when sick. 
  • Encourage personal protective measures among organization/members and staff (e.g., stay home when sick, handwashing, respiratory etiquette). 
  • Ensure sick leave policies allow employees to stay home if they have symptoms of respiratory infection. 
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces daily 
  • Ensure hand hygiene supplies are readily available in all buildings 
  • Social distancing 
    • Limit face-to-face contact when possible. Keep people at least 6 feet apart. 
    • Cancel large group activities and meetings when possible. 
    • Provide web- and mobile-based communications and services if possible. 
    • Alter schedules to reduce mixing (e.g., stagger meal, activities) 
  • Staff/Volunteer restrictions
    • If staff have fever or other respiratory symptoms, they should be excluded from work. 
    • Staff need to self-assess and report symptoms before reporting to work. 
    • Identify staff whom are at higher risk and assign them to unaffected units. 

Senior Center Visitors (Members) 

If visitors, volunteers, employees, attendees, and others become ill with respiratory symptoms while at the facility, they should be separated from others and sent home as soon as possible. Make sure your employees, volunteers, visitors, and clients are aware of these policies. Sick persons should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or cough into elbow or shoulder if tissues not available) and perform hand hygiene immediately after.


  • Review and update emergency operations plan (including implementation of social distancing measures) or develop a plan if one is not available. 
  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home and send sick employees home immediately: 
    • Ensure that your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies. Allow for employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. 
    • Do not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as healthcare providers may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way. 
  • Emphasize respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by everyone
    • Place posters that encourage staying home when sick, cough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to your center and in other areas where they are likely to be seen.
    • Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles. 
    • Ask everyone to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty. 
    • Provide assistance to individuals who may have difficulty washing hands or using a hand rub. 
    • Advise everyone to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the center. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene. 

Planning ahead 

First consider how best to decrease the spread of respiratory illness and lower the impact of COVID-19 in your center in the event of an outbreak in the community. Objectives should include (a) reducing transmission among staff, (b) protecting people who are at higher risk for adverse health complications, (c) maintaining business operations if indicated, and (d) minimizing effects on other senior support agencies. 

  • Implement social distancing measures: 
    • Reduce large gatherings (e.g., group social events) 
    • Alter schedules to reduce mixing (e.g., stagger meal, activity, arrival/departure times) 
    • Limit programs with external staff 
    • Consider having residents stay in facility and limit exposure to the general community 
    • Limit visitors, implement screening 
  • Temperature and respiratory symptom screening of attendees, staff, and visitors 
  • Short-term closures as needed (e.g., if cases in staff, residents or clients who live elsewhere) for cleaning and contact tracing. 
  • Those with symptoms of acute respiratory illness should stay out and not return until they are free of fever (oral thermometer temperature of 100.4 degrees F/37.8 degrees C or greater), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without use of fever-reducing or other symptom altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants). 
  • Impact of the spread of disease in the community: Seniors and some employees may be at higher risk for adverse health complications if they contact this virus. It may be recommended that they stay away from public places and gatherings to protect their health. Some seniors may rely on the center for food, warmth and socialization. Closing your doors will have a severe impact on these vulnerable individuals and your staff. 
    • Determine ways to continue providing support services to individuals at increased risk of severe disease (services, meals, checking in) while limiting group settings and exposures 
  • Prepare for possible increased numbers of absences due to illness in employees and their family members, dismissals of early childhood programs and K-12 schools due to high levels of absenteeism or illness. 


  • Clean frequently touched surfaces daily 
  • Perform routine environmental cleaning and routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the center such as exercise equipment, computers, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label. 
  • No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time. 
  • Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use 
  • Ensure hand hygiene supplies are readily available in all buildings