SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Friday that the city’s summer camps and youth programs would reopen on June 15 with some modifications limiting capacity and certain activities to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The announcement provides some relief for parents of children who have been home-schooled during the past two months of the shelter order and were facing a summer break without the activities the camps and programs provide for children in terms of seasonal child care.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health on Friday issued a revised health order as well as new guidelines for summer camps and programs that are consistent with the statewide guidelines. Under the new order, San Francisco summer camps and programs can open this summer for children and youth ages six to 17. The camps and programs are open to all children and youth in San Francisco.
“There will be a lot of changes. It won’t be like the summer we’re used to like last summer when we had tons of kids who were able to move around the city,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
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Summer camps and programs must prioritize spaces for children of people who work in businesses and organizations that are allowed to operate under the Health Order, including children and youth of parents who are telecommuting for an allowable business. Camps and programs must also prioritize children and youth who need it the most, including low-income youth and those who are part of the most vulnerable populations.
In addition to allowing summer camps and programs to open on June 15th, the revised order clarifies that child care programs may continue operating or reopen. The city’s emergency care for children ages zero to five will continue operating, and will resume regular child care programming after June 1st. The San Francisco Health Officer will continually review whether modifications to the Order are needed.
“We have worked hard to create a safe environment for kids to be kids this summer,” said Breed in a press release. “Children need to be able get outside and have fun while their parents know they are safe. While summer camps and programs will look different this year than they have in the past, it will provide relief for some parents and give their children the opportunity to play and spend time with other kids their age.”
The new order applies to public and private camps and summer programs, and includes safety measures such as temperature screenings and enhanced cleaning. San Francisco will allow summer camps and programs serving children to begin operating on June 15th through August 17th. Individual summer sessions are required to last a minimum of three weeks in duration to minimize co-mingling of children. Camps and programs can choose to run a session that is longer than three weeks. Summer camps and programs will serve distinct groups of up to 12 program participants with the same pod of children and staff.
“For those concerned about health of our kids, under health guidance, kids within the same pod can play sports and certain activities,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “Our public health officials have been focused on minimizing risk. It’s impossible to eliminate it 100%.”
“As long as there are really clear policies about children who are sick, staying home, I think that’s probably going to be alright,” said UCSF epidemiologist George Rutherford.
The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department will operate three separate camp sessions this summer, from June 15th through July 2nd, July 6th through July 24th, and July 27th through August 14th. Families that are currently enrolled in the department’s Emergency Child Care program, along with scholarship-eligible families, can begin registering for summer day camps on May 26. All other families can begin registering for remaining slots on June 6. More information on the department’s programs is available on the SF Rec and Park website.
Summer programs funded by the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families (DCYF) will be able to provide programming from June 15th through August 17th. For more information on non-Recreation and Park Department camps and offerings, families can visit the DCYF website.
“Summer is a magical time for children and we are thrilled that the joy can continue this summer,” said Ginsburg. “We deeply appreciate the Mayor’s leadership and commitment to ensuring our city’s kids have safe, fun, healthy ways to get out and play.”
“Our much anticipated summer is here,” said Maria Su, DCYF Executive Director. “We are deeply committed to ensuring that children and youth, particularly those from working and low-income families, have enriching, safe and fun activities to participate in this summer.”
Summer camps and program will replace the Emergency Child and Youth Care program operated by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, DCYF, and community-based organizations, which will end June 5th. A transition time between the end of the Emergency Child and Youth Care program and the beginning of the summer camps and programs is necessary to make sure staff are appropriately trained and that facilities are cleaned so that camps can operate in a healthy and safe manner.