St. Clair's summer day camps will be offered to kids this year, with some conditions.
Program approval got the go-ahead following a narrow vote of confidence from council Monday. Both councillors and staff raised concerns about opening up to kids during the COVID pandemic."
“On one hand I really want to proceed with this and make this happen for the community and on the other hand I’m really reserved because we are opening ourselves up to this virus that we know is still out there,” says Director of Community Services Kendall Lindsay.
“If council decides to open we will do our best to make sure this is 100 per cent as safe as it can be. But there still is risk,” says Lindsay.
The reopening plan, drawn up by Lindsay and Coordinator of Community Programs Michelle Rottier, includes an extensive list of COVID-related protocols.
The pair wrote “we believe that our community members desperately want normalcy in programming for their children. We believe that (offering camp) is a safe option for both the health and safety of our users and staff, but we need to take into consideration that we have been battling this virus, restrictions and public stresses for over 450 days all while being successful in not having any outbreak linked to our facility."
One new safety requirement will be that junior (ages 5-8) and senior (ages 9-12) day campers will be placed in the same groups this year, reducing much of the usual programming.
“It also looks like a lot of activities that we would normally have the kids do aren’t going to be available,” says Deputy Mayor Steve Miller. “I think this is an awful lot of work for our people… It’s unfortunate but I don’t think that we should do it.”
Councillor Tracy Kingston agreed. “As much as we would love to do it for the kids it’s just too much work and risk we shouldn’t be taking.”
But Councillor Pat Brown says the kids need something positive. “I think these kids have been doing their virtual school and sort of locked up... If the need is there and we can meet the need I would say that we should be (offering camp).”
Council voted 4-2 to go forward with summer camps on the conditions that adequate staffing and participant numbers can be secured. Rottier says they’ll need 15 kids to be signed up each day to cover staffing costs.
Depending on how successful the staff search and enrollment numbers are the camps will open either June 28 or July 5.
Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent