June 1, 2020

To:  All WACOSA staff and stakeholders

From:  Steve H., Executive Director

Re:  COVID-19 Update

By today, we had hoped to be in the process of a larger phased reopening WACOSA’s services.  Unfortunately, we are not at that point yet.  Again, we wish to keep you up-to-date on what we know related to DHS’s guidance regarding WACOSA, and programs like ours, resuming services.  Below, please read the DHS communication from Commissioner, Jodi Harpstead relating to the current situation.  While this does not represent the full opening we continue to hope for, it does represent a gradual loosen of restrictions.

It is possible many of you may have questions related to one of the three categories of services being allowed outlined below.  If so, I encourage you to contact our V.P. of Programs and Services, Nancy Betts at 320-257-5187 or email at nbetts@wacosa.org.  You can also contact me as usual at 320-257-5180 or showard@wacosa.org. We will get back to you as soon as possible.  One point of clarification related to the memo below, the second comment refers to individuals who are in competitive employment, as well as work crews/enclaves.  Nancy and her team are in the process of working out some of the logistics related to recommencing these services very soon.

Please stay connected with WACOSA’s various sources of information as we move into the summer months in order to get as up-to-the-minute information regarding the eventual re-establishment of all WACOSA services.

Thanks for your continued patience.  As always, please stay healthy and safe.


Update on Resuming HCBS Day Services

May 30th, 2020

Dear Partner,

On May 20, we informed providers of day services for people with disabilities that, despite the move from Stay-at-Home MN to Stay Safe MN, it would be too risky to re-open facilities that provide day services at the time.

We have worked as swiftly as possible since then to determine what services could still be provided as Minnesota begins to open non-critical businesses.

Today I am able to announce that there are three areas where the Department of Human Services believes it would be feasible for services to be provided:

First, in modifying a prior flexibility, we have approved a new flexibility that allows services to be provided by remote technology to people who live in group home settings.  These services include:

  • Health, safety, and well-being check-ins and assistance with problem-solving
  • Stress management and behavioral redirection
  • Community and safety awareness

Second, we wish to clarify that, as Minnesota has moved from Stay-at-Home to Stay Safe MN, people with jobs with employers that are re-opening their businesses within the requirements of applicable Executive Orders may also return to their jobs and receive employment supports.

Lead agencies and providers should work with people to allow them to make informed choices, including considerations such as:

  • People considered at high-risk – those over 65 or with underlying health conditions – are strongly encouraged to stay home.
  • Employers should have Preparedness Plans on file with the Department of Employment and Economic Development.
  • Individuals should be prepared to protect themselves in the workplace by regular hand-washing, mask-wearing, not touching their faces, etc.

Third, we have worked in close collaboration with the MN Department of Health to develop a plan for day services facilities to partially open to serve people who live in their own home or who live with family members in non-congregate licensed or unlicensed settings, but not those who come to those facilities from congregate living settings.

Once again, people considered high-risk – those over 65 or with underlying conditions – are strongly encouraged to stay home.  Also, a person’s service-related rights include the right to  make an informed choice about whether to receive day services in the licensed facility/community or to “stay-at-home.”

License holders of a day services facility license must adhere to Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on COVID-19, and they must establish and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan as set forth in Emergency Executive Order 20-63, paragraph 7.e.

Additional requirements regarding capacity, cohort size, duration of shifts, screening protocols, and other measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 will be communicated in guidance through normal channels within the next few days. Programs may resume operating after receiving the specific Licensing guidance and completing the COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.

We hope that these new flexibilities will provide people with disabilities across Minnesota a fuller opportunity to access vital emotional and social supports while minimizing the risk to health and safety from COVID-19 exposure.


Jodi Harpstead, Commissioner

Minnesota Department of Human Services