As coronavirus restrictions are lifted and more parents head back to work, the Orange County YMCA may have a solution for those wondering what their children will do over the summer.
Starting June 1, Orange County YMCA will welcome 1,000 students at 20 locations to their summer camps. To be ready for that, staff know they have to teach the kind of social distancing a 9-year-old can understand.
In March, the YMCA made a choice to continue its daycare centers on empty school campuses to care for children of essential workers. They’ve revamped some popular games to help kids in their care stay safe.
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‘Noodle Tag’ is one such example. Each player stays the required six feet apart thanks to a plastic pool noodle they use to “tag” each other.
The game can still be a duel to the finish, but it’s exactly what YMCA officials say a kid needs to play and be safe.
“They know that they have to follow rules and wear a mask and they follow those rules, but they are excited to still go out and be around friends,” Staci Costello, a mom at the YCMA, said.
Inside the classroom every child gets a temperature check. Chairs are separated to subtly remind little ones to spread out and groups of ten or less stay on each side of a barrier.
Teachers are finding creative ways to not make the COVID-19 safety rules too emotionally heavy.
“When we say, 'Dr. Pepper,' the kids know that they have to strike a ‘T,’" teacher Jamie Alls explains while she spreads her arms out in the shape of a T and swivels side to side. "If they go like this and they're too close to somebody, they know not that they're not staying true to social distancing."
Officials with YMCA say they’ve been allowed to continue as an essential service and have never closed.
”We’re serving about 400 kids a day right now. We have not had onc incident of Covid with the kids or the teachers,” Jeff McBride, CEO of Orange County YMCA, said.
Officials also said they’re learning how resilient these elementary age kids can be if they keep the health rules at a level that makes sense, like telling them to dance one hoola hoop apart from each other.
And these students seem to be getting it.
“I don’t know if I have it or if anyone else has it but I’m trying to keep everyone safe saying social distance or Dr. Pepper,” Travis Burt, a student, said.