Blaine Senior Center to begin opening Monday, May 17

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Blaine Senior Center will start reopening on Monday, May 17, with the gym to be the first to welcome back its members.

Once Whatcom County entered Phase 3 of the governor’s reopening plan, the senior center’s director Kathy Sitker said she contacted state representatives to understand the regulations for senior centers, which she said were not included in reopening guidance.

The Whatcom County health department, Sitker said, advised the senior center to do the activities they wanted under Phase 3 guidelines.

“Seniors need that connection,” Sitker said. “A lot of them are getting pretty lonely. They can’t wait to get back. But even with us opening, people will be able to socialize up to a point.”

Gym and fitness classes will be the first activities to reopen in the center right now, Sitker said. People who want to use the gym – which includes cross trainers, step machines and treadmills – will need to reserve a 45-minute appointment time and only three members are allowed at a time. Gym-goers will need to wear a mask while they workout and won’t be able to use equipment next to another member, Sitker said.

The gym will be open during the center’s business hours.

“We’ll play it by ear,” Sitker said of gym regulations. “We’ve never done this before so it’s like reinventing a wheel that was never there before because we have to figure out how we’re going to do this.”

Starting Thursday, May 20, a video stretch class will be played 9:30-10:30 a.m. for no more than 20 people. Starting Tuesday, May 25, a stretch class with bans will be offered 9:30-10:30 a.m. to no more than 20 people.

The senior center is also offering outdoor activities. Tai Chi is held 10-11 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Peace Arch Park. Members can also play bocce ball in the grassy area by H Street.

Activities played with other members like jigsaw puzzles and pool won’t be available immediately because of social distancing, Sitker said, estimating the poolroom could open in June.

“My thought process and the other board members on the committee, we thought, ‘Let’s just get through this beginning and see how it works,’” she said. 

The library will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays.

The senior center will require everyone to wear masks, social distance, take daily temperature checks, hand wash.

The center won’t serve meals inside but will continue to hand out seven frozen meals every Thursday through Meals on Wheels, Sitker said. Coffee and seating will be provided outside in the area facing H Street for people who want to have a cup of coffee and chat, she added.

During the pandemic, the senior center staff kept busy by gardening, redoing floors and painting walls.

The center will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day except Saturdays and Sundays.

“I hope people come in here with smiles on their faces and are thrilled,” Sitker said. “I want to see a bunch of high fives, socially distanced, of course.”

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