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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Summer camps can open; New Castle County dog parks and tennis courts return June 1

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Christopher Kersey
Christopher Kersey
Christopher Kersey is an award winning reporter with 13 years of experience in journalism who has written for five different newspapers, including two in Delaware.

Kids having fun at Camp Arrowhead in Lewes last summer

Before today, Governor John Carney had never discussed whether summer camps would ever reopen this year.

But with new summer camp and summer school guidance issued by his office on Friday, parents can breathe a sigh of relief, and camps can count on hosting activities at some point this summer.

Carney issued strict limits for kids’ summer camps to avoid COVID-19 infections. But when exactly the camps can target an opening this summer remains unclear.

 

Summer camps are not included in the Phase 1 reopening, which begins Monday. On June 1, retailers, museums, theaters and hotels can begin to welcome visitors at 30% of a venue’s capacity.

Summer camps and summer school programs will be permitted to open in accordance with Delaware’s guidance effective with Phase 2 of the economic reopening. In the past, Governor Carney has said he would like to see 14 days of declining cases of COVID-19 before moving into another phase.

Recreational camps must develop a written plan for enforcing social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and other public health precautions. No deadline to submit the plans to the state was announced.

New Castle County to reopen dog parks and tennis courts June 1

In related recreational news, New Castle County Executive Matthew Meyer  announced that dog parks and tennis courts will reopen for use on Monday June 1. County parks with doggie playgrounds include Talley Day,  Glasgow, Iron Hill, Carousel and Banning Parks.

 

Masks are required while in the park and everyone should practice social distancing. Dogs do not have to adhere to social distancing rules nor apparently to wear masks.

Tennis courts will be available on a first come first serve basis.

Camps encouraged to limit numbers

According to the governor’s announcement, the state health department  “strongly encourages” camps and summer school programs to limit groups to 15 children plus staff. Each camp capacity must be reduced in size so people are separated by six feet for indoor and outdoor activities. 

Guidance on masks for youth is forthcoming, but children 2-years-old and younger should not wear a face covering due to the risk of suffocation, the governor’s announcement said.

 

Daily health checks

If feasible, the health department also recommends conducting daily health checks such as temperature screening or symptom checking of staff and students. Health checks should be conducted in accordance with privacy laws.

Camps and summer school programs should consider special precautions to protect vulnerable staff members and children who are at higher risk for severe illness.

The state health department “recommends” that groups of children plus staff (cohorts) be limited to a total of 15 individuals “meaning the same children and staff should make up one cohort. Children and staff should not switch between cohorts and interactions between cohorts should be restricted as much as possible,” said the governor’s announcement.

 

At a press conference on Friday, Carney said, “The idea here, as I understand it with summer camps [and] summer schools, is to keep the cohorts limited to 15 children plus staff and then keep those cohorts together, as opposed to mixing a larger number of children together to make contact tracing a little bit more difficult and to limit the potential spread” of COVID-19. 

Once groups are assigned, mixing of groups and switching of staff should be limited to “the greatest extent possible to reduce the impact of COVID positives,” said the governor’s press release.

Also, the programs’ facilities must be cleaned at least once a day and high contact surfaces–including but not limited to doorknobs, light switches, and railings–should be cleaned a minimum of twice throughout the day. 

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