Key Takeaways

  • NCOA and the National Institute for Senior Centers (NISC) shares the latest best practice information that senior centers are using to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and how they're keeping everyone safe.

NCOA and the National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC) care about keeping senior centers safe and healthy, and information on how to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic is critical as the situation continues to develop.

The first step for all senior centers is to contact your local public health department for the latest guidance on how to respond in your immediate area. Senior centers also can play an important role in sharing trusted information with older adults.

Guidance as senior centers gear back up for on-site programming

NISC is committed to helping your center continue to offer quality services and programs to your participants throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

With your help through recent webinars and surveys, we have developed an evolving resource guide, Senior Centers Connect, with remote programming and service continuity ideas. This guide is available to all senior centers.

NISC is collecting State Departments on Aging, State Senior Center Associations, and other senior center guidance plans and tools. Please contact us at if you have a resource to share.

Resuming senior senter on-site programming resources

Vermont's Guidance and Senior Center Self-Assessment Tool

The Vermont Association of Senior Centers and Meal Providers (VASCAMP) worked on the Assessment Tool with the Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living (DAIL). It is intended to be a checklist to help senior centers to know when they're ready to re-open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommendations for Reopening- Scaling Up Senior Center Operations from Massachusetts Councils on Aging (MCOA)

The MCOA Task Force has provided the suggested guidelines below for consideration in working with your local Board of Health and other municipal officials regarding the prospective reopening and/or the scaling up of operations at your senior centers. These are based on guidance from the state, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and other sources. The following are fluid documents and will be updated as warranted.

Stage 1

Stage 2

MCOA will be providing you with both, COVID-19 Operations and Communications Plan templates for each of the following areas:

The Operations Plan templates are based on the state’s guidance that all businesses in the state of Massachusetts must develop a written control plan outlining how it will comply with the mandatory safety standards for operation in the COVID-19 reopening period for: Social Distancing, Hygiene Protocols, Staffing and Operations and Cleaning and Disinfecting. The Operations Plans will also contain links to additional guidance on the specific areas; Centers, Transportation, and Programs and Services.

Re-opening Recommendations for Senior Centers from the Pennsylvania Association of Senior Centers (PASC)
On May 29, 2020, the PASC Board of Directors drafted and adopted a Re-opening Recommendation Plan for Pennsylavania senior centers, which was submitted and accepted by the Pennsylavania Department of Aging. These recommendations should be used in collaboration with the Department's guidelines

To determine how many participants a senior center can serve per social distancing guidelines. This number is determined by taking the total square footage of programming space and dividing it by 113. The number 113 is the square footage needed around an individual for six (6) feet of social distancing.

Upcoming NISC COVID-19 webinars for senior centers

NISC will continue to hold webinars to share ideas and best practices for remote programming and service continuity as the coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve. Your input during these conversations helps us develop materials for all senior centers to use. If you have an idea for an upcoming webinar, please email us at  

Senior Center operating status

Please let us know the operating status of your senior center during COVID-19 by filling out this survey. You can fill it out more than once if the operating status of your senior center changes.

The below chart indicates the results of this survey as of May 15, 2020. The responses in order are 76.92% reporting “the center is closed with some staff reporting, limited programs offered”, 18.93% report “the center is closed, no staff reporting” and 4.14% report that the “center is open with limited programs".

Please take the survey again if the operating status of your center changes. We will continue to update the senior center COVID-19 operating status outlook soon.

Past NISC Webinars on COVID-19 for Senior Centers

Guidance for Resuming On-Site Senior Center Operations (May 2020)

Downloadable slides from the Guidance for Resuming On-Site Senior Center Operations webinar

NISC Leadership Coronavirus Conversation (March 2020)

NISC Leadership Coronavirus Conversation (April 2020)

Additional COVID-19 resources for professionals

If you or your organization works with older adults, use these resources to get best practices, share tips, and see what leading authorities are recommending during the COVID-19 pandemic. These tools can help you navigate the coronavirus and its impact on older Americans, including emergency protocols, coverage of testing and treatment, and how to connect with local officials.