From Arlington County to Prince William County, parks and recreation departments are being forced to make changes to their scheduled programming due to COVID-19.
As we head full speed into summer, more cancellations and schedule adjustments as a result of the coronavirus are continuing to pile in. The most recent and of concern to families of Northern Virginia? The pending status of summer camps.
Here, we breakdown what’s happening with summer camps run by local county parks and recreation departments—many of which have decided to cancel their programs for the health and safety of local families—as of mid-May.
Currently, summer camps in Alexandria are canceled through the month of June, and registration is officially put on pause. According to a county representative via a phone conversation though, the city may reopen summer programming toward the end of summer. Until the final decision is made, city officials will continue to monitor the status of phase one reopening in Northern Virginia, putting the health and safety of residents first.
As of May 20, Arlington County has decided to cancel all summer camps for 2020. The decision was made, according to a recent press release, after County staff weighed many options to determine if camps could remain on the calendar with proper social distancing, appropriate cleaning protocols and other safety measures in place.
“We recognize how important camps are to our residents, and we are truly saddened to have to cancel for the summer,” says Parks and Recreation Director Jane Rudolph. “Ultimately, it is the best decision for the safety and health of our community. We will continue to explore opportunities to provide programs and services as national, state and local guidelines allow. We appreciate your patience as we work through this difficult time.”
All local residents who are currently signed up for a camp will receive a full refund. For those trying to keep kids entertained at home, the Parks and Recreation Department recently launched Recreate at Home, offering biweekly lists of fun and safe things to do outside while practicing social distancing.
As the largest summer camp provider in NoVA, many are awaiting the news from Fairfax County surrounding program cancellations. As of now, the county is “not 100% sure” it will be able to host camps, according to the Parks and Recreation Department website. As of May 20, parks have reopened for limited use in accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines. Full refunds are available, should the county decide to cancel summer programming after June 10 (the date currently scheduled for all events and programming to tentatively resume).
Under Gov. Ralph Northam’s “Forward Virginia” plan, the opening of organized youth activities (including summer camp programming and day care) is permitted in phase two. As of now, the city of Falls Church does not have a decision regarding summer camp programming, but the final decision surrounding programming scheduled for June 15 through July 2 will be made by June 1. By the weekend of June 12, city officials will have a decision on camp programming from July 6 through August 14. Should summer camp programming be canceled, all currently registered families will receive a refund.
According to Fauquier County’s Parks and Recreation Department, all previously scheduled programming through June 30 is cancelled. The possibility of opening summer camp programming toward the end of the summer is possible, however not yet officially decided upon.
2020 summer camps in the city of Fredericksburg are officially cancelled as of May 19; however, the fun will go on with “pop-up programs” set to begin in mid-June, according to the Fredericksburg Park and Recreation Department. With the new programming, the department staff will bring athletic equipment, art supplies, craft ideas and games to local parks in the area, depending on the day. This way, community members can have some fun together through the summer, all while accommodating social distancing guidelines.
As of May 15, Loudoun County postponed summer registration until the region moves past phase one of reopening, keeping the decision of whether or not summer camps will take place midsummer unknown.
“It remains my hope to offer modified summer camps and programs and reopen our facilities when we can safely progress to phase two,” stated the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services Director Steve Torpy in a recent press release. “Staff is adjusting our usual programming and facility use methodology to be prepared for when conditions change, which will allow us to once again operate activities in a safe manner.”
As of May 11, the McLean Community Center canceled its summer programming, including full-day summer camps at Camp McLean and The Old Firehouse Summer Camp Trips. For those who already registered, full refunds are available. Instead, the Center will be offering free, two- to three-day virtual activities in place of camp. More details will be available for local residents in the coming weeks.
According to Brent M. Heavner, communications services decision chief of the Prince William County Department of Parks & Recreation, it is too early to tell if summer camps will continue as scheduled. For now, registration for upcoming programming is unavailable until further notice, and recreation, fitness centers and playgrounds are closed as well.
“What we have done is asked our staff to prepare plans to resume summer day camps when we do receive guidance from the commonwealth and local public health officials, that we may safely do so,” Heavner wrote in an email. “This includes preparing for many different scenarios we may find ourselves in when we initially reopen, such as social distancing and PPE requirements.”
For all updated information on county-run summer camps, check your local parks and recreation department websites, as new details are being announced regularly.
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