The Barber National Institute, in a careful matter, is planning on reopening doors to its clients and staff this and next month. 

This, of course, will come with challenges. Many of the clients the institute serves are at a heightened risk for contracting COVID-19.

"Our clients and individuals are very vulnerable, many have coexisting medical problems, and we need to be extra careful", said Debbie Burbules, Chief Operating Officer. 

Burbules also says, however, that regulations put in place at the beginning of the pandemic could help to stop the spread when clients return. .

"I think one of the biggest things we did is that we quarantined our residential individuals since the beginning of the pandemic", said Burbules.

 According to administration, the reopening plan will be in phases for day programs and schools. 

School programs are expected to begin following the Labor Day weekend. Social distancing in classrooms, as well as furniture being replaced, will be included in the safety procedures. 

Day programs have already begun to start again. Burbules says the current programs are operating at about 30% capacity, with other programs set to begin again this month. 

While administration knows there could be a significant risk for a COVID-19 spread inside the center, they are confident the staff and social distancing measures inside the facility will allow for a safe reopening. 

"We've spent almost $190,000 on personal protective equipment and other safety equipment", said Burbules. "We want to make sure we keep all of our clients and staff healthy [during the pandemic]".

This story was supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.