Letter from Lynn Latta, Executive Director

Date posted October 14, 2021

Dear Members:

As you know, as of October 1, 2021, new Public Health Orders/Mandates related to COVID-19 came into effect in our Province. The Delta variant is wreaking havoc with our medical/health-care system and the need for further measures to keep communities as safe as possible were urgently needed. When announcing these new measures, the Chief Medical Officer stated that even further measures may become necessary over the next little while.

To address this situation within our own Autism Services community, the following measures are being implemented:

  • Effective October 4th – the Service Center at 209 Fairmont Drive will only be accessible to individuals (employees and others) who are fully vaccinated and willing to provide verification of that status. The exception is children under the age of 12 (for whom vaccinations are not yet approved), and people with verifiable medical exemptions (who will be subject to strict restrictions/protocols). Alternative virtual service options will be offered whenever feasible.
  • Prior to entering the Service Center, fully vaccinated individuals will be required to undertake strict screening protocols, including questionnaire, temperature checks, sanitizing, physical distancing, and staff will be taking rapid testing a minimum of once per week.
  • All employees are being required to achieve fully vaccinated status as soon as possible. For those that refuse (or refuse to disclose their status), there will be strict restrictions/protocols implemented immediately, which may impact on their ability to maintain the current positions and/or the hours of work available.

An example: employees in Adult Support Programs whose role it is to accompany residents to outside programs – if the resident meets the entrance criteria (fully vaccinated) for a venue they wish to attend, they deserve to have staff working with them who also meet that criteria.

  • Group home and the Day Program will continue to practice strict safety protocols and as the situation unfolds, may be required to implement more restrictions on visits to the homes or to resident family homes.
  • Family and Group programs continue to run in external venues, aligning with the specific policies/protocols/restrictions of each venue. We know it can be confusing with many different sets of rules and we are trying to do our best to navigate this reality while continuing to offer quality, engaging social and recreational options for participants with autism.

We realize how difficult these past 18+ months have been for everyone, and our goal remains to keep delivering our services in the safest and most impactful way possible. We continue to operate the Little Tots program and AIP individual face-to-face sessions with children at our Service Center, always maintaining strict adherence to safety protocols. Many of our services/programs have pivoted to a virtual platform and we are so grateful to be able to make these options available to families seeking service and support.

Autism Services of Saskatoon is strongly committed to doing our part in helping Saskatchewan get through this pandemic. We support the Province in the effort to get people fully vaccinated and will continue to do whatever we can to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on our service delivery.

These are difficult times for everyone and require all of us to make sacrifices and adjustments in our personal and professional lives. Thank you for all that you’ve been doing for the past 18 months to keep yourselves, your families, your colleagues, and your community as safe as possible.

Reminder: October is Autism Awareness Month in Canada and we are promoting Awareness and Acceptance of Autism in our Community. We are also undertaking fundraising in support of our Family Programs.

We hope you see our billboards around town, hear the promotions on the radio and television, follow our Facebook page… and know we do this in support of the children and families who reach out to us for support. We Hope We Bring You Hope!

– Lynn Latta, Executive Director