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COVID 19 President Update September 23

Good Afternoon Cushing Community,

Regardless of age, it seems that September always marks a new beginning. The summer vacations are behind us, there is a chill in the air and the days are getting shorter. This has also marked the beginning of the “new normal” for all of our day programs and schools. Our community based day programs successfully opened for in-person learning just a few weeks ago and both our Hanover and Braintree school programs welcomed back all of their students these past 2 weeks. Throughout every step of our summer planning, the safety and health of our staff and those we support has been our primary concern and continues to be a top priority each and every day. I cannot say enough thanks for all of the planning, flexibility and teamwork that has gone into making our in-person learning and programming an incredible success! We truly appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding during this process, it is great to see everyone back again!

In August, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) instituted that all residential group homes and congregate care settings establish baseline testing for staff to slow the spread of COVID-19. This initial COVID-19 Surveillance Testing must be completed by September 30, 2020 and employees should be prepared to engage in ongoing testing through at least December 2020. Ongoing testing will be determined by our geographic position and rates of positive COVID-19 cases within Massachusetts. Beginning in October, we will have bi-weekly reports from EOHHS indicating levels of positive COVID-19 testing in our region which may require increased testing of our staff going forward. I am pleased to report that we have tested over 300 staff so far and have had no positive cases to report. This is a great time to acknowledge and commend our staff for their incredible vigilance and responsibility in keeping our community safe. It is also a good time to remind ourselves that the health of our community is dependent on the thought, care and good judgment of each and every one of us. We will keep you abreast of any changes in our COVID status and inform you directly if your individual/child has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19


  • On August 15th Cardinal Cushing and St. Coletta Day School’s graduating Class of 2020 set a new standard for future graduations at Cushing! Our graduates and their families were led by the Hanover Police in a drive-thru graduation ceremony. Pomp and Circumstance played as the cars lined up around the track and then the fun began! Each graduate chose their walk up song and had their time in the spot light. The graduates received a personalized graduation yard sign, a framed student triumph message, their graduation certificate and a voucher for next year’s Disney trip or a gift card in lieu of the Disney trip and a personalized CD of everyone’s song choice. There was laughter, tears and lots of celebrating! A huge thanks to our Graduation Committee and all of the volunteers who thought of every detail to make it so special for our graduates and their families!
  • Keep a look out for our upcoming virtual Parent Advisory Council (PAC) meeting schedule. Our first meeting will be an introduction to Amy Purkis, Vice President of Student Programs and Services.
  • We continue to have both on and off site visits with friends and family. We are beginning to evaluate what additional options will be presented as the weather turns, however, there will be no changes to onsite visits until we receive further guidance from the state.


  • This week begins Phase 3 of our re-opening of our adult day program. With this plan, available Hanover space at SSI & LOU South is maximized and Braintree SSI & LOU north is close to maximum capacity.
  • Meaningful family and friend visits have resumed; on site outside at the programs as well as leisure visits with families for overnights and weekends. We are beginning to evaluate what additional options will be presented as the weather turns however, there will be no changes to onsite visits until we receive further guidance from the state.
  • We have had 2 employees complete the Southeast Leadership Series, concluding with a Capstone Presentation to an audience of 50 people virtually. Esteemed Cushing participants were Emily Quinlan, House Manager for Nautical Way and Peggy McGlone, Job Coach at SSI South.
  • Aindrea Benduzek, former Director of Adult Services Residential Programs, has resumed a leadership role within Adult Services, bringing her experience and knowledge of our folks to the new role of Human Rights Coordinator.
  • Please keep a look out for upcoming virtual Meet & Greets with myself and Ginger Sullivan, Vice President of Adult Services.

We appreciate all of the support and patience as we have worked to bring our staff and your loved ones back to school and their adult programs successfully. If there are any specific questions or concerns, please reach out to your division’s program director or to me directly. We will keep you all updated as we begin to receive additional guidance from EOHHS.

Be Well,
Michelle Markowitz
President & CEO