TAMPA, Fla. — Big news from Florida’s governor Friday who cleared the way for summer camps to reopen across the state.
“Effective immediately, Florida will be lifting all restrictions on youth activities including summer camp and athletics,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference Friday.
The announcement left both private camps and local municipalities scrambling to figure out what to do.
Matt Mitchell is president and CEO of the Tampa Metro YMCA. He says while camps will go on this year, they will look much different.
“It’s going to happen, it’s just going to be in smaller groups,” said Mitchell. “We’re going to make it as fun as possible for them, but it’s going to be safe.”
The YMCA teamed up with medical experts and the American Camping Association to come up with list of new protocols including daily temperature checks, curbside check-in, smaller camp groups and spaced out activities.
“If there does happen to be a kid who is sick, that’s not spread through a group of 50 or 100 kids. It will be kept within a much smaller group of kids to limit contamination,” said Mitchell.
Rohom Khonsari is dad to two young sons, but also a local attorney.
“I think everyone was very hopeful. The summer camps will be open,” he said.
But he also acknowledges the challenges many camps are going through now.
“Each of these facilities, especially the private facilities are going to have to make decisions on their own as to whether, even with the governor’s order, they’re going to open back up, because they might be susceptible to liability in that instance.”
He says parents should be asking questions before enrolling their kids.
“I think I’d be asking how sanitary the summer camp is, their cleaning procedures, what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis.”
The YMCA is confident it can provide a safe and clean camp for kids, and say they’ve been practicing since March when they began providing childcare for healthcare workers and first responders.
“We’ve been practicing really good social distancing and safe programs for kids,” said Mitchell. “We’ve been preparing for day camp early for these past 10 weeks by offering these essential programs.”
And while the Y admits there is risk with COVID-19 cases still out there, they’re determined to do everything they can to keep kids safe.
“These camps are critical to our communities,” said Mitchell. “Parents have to get to work, the community has to keep moving forward. That’s why as a provider of day camp, we have to ensure the safest possible environment for our kids.”
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