JUPITER, Fla. — As the summer season nears, camps across South Florida are working carefully to integrate new safety measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Ignite Sports in Jupiter announced the annual 10-week summer program will begin June 1 with new restrictions in place.
"We are very excited to reopen our doors to our community," said Jon Butler, owner of Ignite Sports. "We are confident that our facility will continue to be an enjoyable and safe place for your children to spend time with their friends this summer."
Butler is limiting enrollment and allowing to parents to register their child without paying tuition upfront.
Ignite Sports will also accommodate working families by offering early drop-off and late pickup options at no additional cost.
However, arrangements must be made ahead of time for proper staffing and safety.
Daily screening procedures will also be conducted and children who appear to be sick will be sent home.
"We cut our camp size down by a third, so we limiting our numbers to 10 in each group and sticking to the protocols put in place," added Butler.
As thousands of camps across the country determine whether to open this summer, the YMCA and the American Camp Association released detailed guidelines as best practices evolve.
Some of the precautions include having children wear masks when appropriate, engaging in smaller group activities than usual and regularly sanitizing sports equipment -- if a summer camp decides to operate.
"We're social distancing with zone games that will be spaced out," said Butler. "[Students] will go one at a time instead of going simultaneously."
The guidelines emphasize social distancing whenever possible and staggering meals, arrivals and pickups, for example.
They also call for regular hand-washing, disinfection measures and the option of screening campers and staff through temperature checks for two weeks before camp starts.
"Some camps will open with shortened sessions and have in-person camps. Some camps will have virtual camping opportunities for kids who can't attend in person. Some camps are pivoting to other programs, like family camp," said Tom Rosenberg, American Camp Association president and CEO. "There are going to be lots of different choices, but not necessarily looking typical this summer."
However, many families are still voicing concerns as they wrap up the school year with distance learning.
"We decided we weren't quite ready for our kids to go to camp yet," said Jen Raimondi, a Girl Scout troop leader in Palm Beach Gardens.
When the summer break begins, Raimondi will partner with other parents to share childcare responsibilities.
"Since the options are pretty limited, we thought we would take the responsibility and rotate our children every other day," said Raimondi.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance about operating youth programs and camps during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CDC said it's important to check with state and local health officials to determine the most appropriate actions to meet the unique needs and circumstances of the community.
According to the Florida Department of Health, while testing in the state increased over the past week, the percent of those testing positive for COVID-19 overall is 7%.