Home News and Features Montpelier Senior Activity Center Reopening Slowly

Montpelier Senior Activity Center Reopening Slowly

Montpelier Area Senior Center. Courtesy photo.
29 Courses To Be Offered This Fall, Most On Zoom

After being shut down for several months by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Montpelier Senior Activity Center had a “very soft and slow” reopening in August, according to Director Janna Clar, and is offering registration for 29 fall courses set to start the week of September 21.

That’s a big drop from the 75 courses the Senior Center normally offers each session, and only four of the courses this fall will be in-person (three art classes and a Tai Chi course), with the rest, – including yoga, Pilates and Bonebuilders – being offered online. Clar noted that many instructors as well as center users are “feeling quite cautious” about gathering in person or socializing at the center.

A number of the 25 Zoom courses being offered this fall have no limit on the number of students who can sign up, which means more people will be able take each of these courses. This could help the organization’s revenue, which has been hurt by the pandemic. Loss of income from fees is one factor that led to the city cutting its budget by 10% this summer.

For courses that have limits but have more applicants than spaces, the Senior Center will operate a random lottery, with a majority of spots available to Montpelier and supporting town residents first. In the past, the center awarded class slots on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Class fees are going up this fall, as announced in January. The increases are $5-10 for each 10-12 week series, or in most cases, less than $1 per session. 

The deadline for course registration is September 2, though payment will not be requested until after Labor Day, Clar said. Anyone registering for classes this fall must sign a waiver entitled “Release of Liability & Covid-19 Cooperation.” Information on the fall courses and on registering can be found here: https://www.montpelier-vt.org/751/Classes

In addition to courses at the Montpelier Senior Activity Center, many current and former instructors are offering their own private Zoom classes, often for donation or a small fee. A list of these instructors and courses can be found here: https://www.montpelier-vt.org/DocumentCenter/View/6812/MSAC-Instructors-teaching-privately-as-of-8-23-20?bidId=

Clar noted the instructors have also seen their finances suffer due the pandemic, so the center is supporting their independent efforts. She said some of these instructors have urged their students to make donations to the Montpelier Senior Activity Center.

While it was the pandemic that forced the center to put many fall courses online, Clar said this was something it had intended to do in the future in any case.  “We will have more in-person courses in the future, but I think we will continue to also offer Zoom courses,” she said.

For now, the Montpelier Senior Activity Center is closed to the public except for reservation-only small events and FEAST senior meal production for delivery and to-go. More drop-in groups may resume as the fall goes on. For the small number of in-person classes starting up later in September, masks and social distancing will be required, and none of the classes will be held simultaneously, Clar said.