TEMPLE, Texas — Several local youth programs plan to open in June. But those who hope to take advantage of these camps will find that those programs have a lot more rules and quite a bit less space than usual.
The Ralph Wilson Youth Club in Temple kept summer registration information on their website in hopes that they would be able to open, and it paid off. Executive Director Brett Williams told 6 News the program is thrilled to find out they can put the plan into action.
"We said, 'Finally some good news!'" Williams said. "It's knowing that you are going to be able to put the plan in place that you've worked on for the last 45 to 60 days."
Unfortunately, the only way to make that plan work with the new state guidelines is to provide fewer spots overall. Williams said that last summer the program could hold around 750 kids and now they will only have roughly half as many spots.
At the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Texas, it's the same story.
Vice President of Resource Development Daniel Hall told 6 News their operation had been able to stay open for the children of essential employees. While they are now able to open space up for all families at the end of the month, there isn't nearly as much space.
"It's my understanding, and this is still being evaluated by our CEO, that we will still be restricted to 10-plus-gatherings at this time," Hall said. "We will have summer day camp solutions for families in Central Texas. How those look are still up for interpretation."
Hall said the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Texas have at least 10 sites in multiple cities, but the space at each would be limited by the number of available classrooms. Some sites could serve more than 40 kids and others may only serve less than 25.
Guidelines from the Office of the Governor outline recommendations and requirements for summer programs as they open back up. These include:
- Keeping kids and staff in designated groups or "cohorts."
- Notifying all parents in a cohort if anyone in the group tests positive for COVID-19.
- Screening all kids and staff for COVID-19 symptoms every day.
- Requiring parents to pick up and drop off kids without entering the camp or facility.
- Requiring programs to implement hygiene plans for dining and activities.
Still, other rules require staff to limit involvement in activities if they have underlying conditions that could be connected to COVID-19. Rules also require staff with worsening symptoms to get tested. Organizations must plan ahead so they don't run short on staff members in the middle of their summer program.
"There most certainly are staffing concerns," Hall said. "With those facility constraints, we are limited in bouncing back to existing staffing levels."
Not all programs plan on opening at this time either. When 6 News contacted the Waco Family and Doris Miller YMCA, representatives said they will make a determination on summer camps at the end of May.
While the organizations that plan to open summer programs can't predict exactly what everything will look like at this time, program leaders said they are committed to returning in order to help the community.
"The people who walk in and out of our doors roll up their sleeves and go to work every day," Williams said. "We know that they need us. We've been chomping at the bit to get things back open."
"Now we can serve that kids that might not have a parent at home, that might have a parent working, that might have a troubling family situation," Hall said. "We can open up the doors to them again and that's what we are really excited about."
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