Many summer camps in the commonwealth have decided not to host campers this year in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. The decision is sure to have an impact on families in Virginia that depend on camps for school age children while parents are working through the summer months.
And according to the National Partnership, 55% of working people in Virginia do not get unpaid leave. This year, state Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax) and Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Prince William) introduced a bill that would have given workers up to 12 weeks of paid family leave per year to care for a new child, attend to a medical condition or care for an ill family member.
If it had become law, Virginia would have one of the strongest parental leave programs in the country. But the bill died in committee just a month after it was introduced. Having a program like that in place now could’ve given parents many more options during the long summer months.
Whether or not summer camps are allowed to reopen is a decision that often comes down to the county or city the camp is located in. Below we have compiled a list of summer camps in different areas and their reopening status.
Summer camps in Arlington County are closed for the summer. Arlington County Parks Director Jane Rudolph said in a statement on May 20 that the department had given thought to opening camps in the county with restrictions. The camps would have to follow social distancing rules, cleaning protocols and safety measures but officials decided against allowing camps to reopen.
“Ultimately, the County was not confident all campers and staff would be able to safely enjoy an even modified camp experience,” the department said in a statement.
Families who have already signed up for camps will receive full refunds.
Summer camps in Fairfax County are closed for the summer. The Fairfax County Park Authority announced on May 20 in a news release that all sponsored summer camps, REC-Pac programs, summer camp programs sponsored by the Neighborhood and Community Services and SACC programs are cancelled for 2020.
According to the department, the cancellation represents childcare and recreational opportunities for thousands of families across Fairfax County.
Park Authority Director Kirk Kincannon acknowledged how important local summer camps are for families in Fairfax and promised that the department will continue to look for programs suitable given the current situation.
“Rest assured we are continuing to search for the right programs and services we can provide based on guidance at all levels of government. These are unprecedented times and public support has been vital,” he said in a statement.
The Loudoun County Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services announced that it will not print its summer activity guide and will postpone registration for summer activities and classes. The department also noted that a decision on opening enrollment mid-season would come only after the county enters Phase One of recovery.
While much of Virginia has already entered Phase One and has begun relaxing restrictions, northern counties in the commonwealth have opted to postpone their reopening until cases of the coronavirus trend downwards.
All Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities facilities are currently closed and all programs and events are cancelled through June 10. The department will be contacting people who already registered for programs earlier in the year with information about their accounts.
RPCA is hosting a number of virtual events that residents can attend through RPCA at Home! They also encourage residents to continue moving and getting outside in a healthy way.
“All unfenced City of Alexandria parks, trails and fields remain open to the public to provide opportunities for safe, physically distant exercise. The City and the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) believe that access to outdoor exercise is crucial to maintaining both the physical and mental health of our community,” they wrote on their webpage.
Summer camps in Fredericksburg are closed for the 2020 season. They will, however, be offering “pop-up” programs where staff will bring activities to different locations around the city.
“Depending on the day and location we may bring some athletic equipment, art supplies, craft ideas and games to the local parks in your area. We think we should all still be able to get outside and have some fun together!!” the Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation Department wrote in a press release.
Space will be limited initially as programs begin to accommodate social distancing guidelines but, they wrote, “we hope as the summer goes on we will be able to expand the size of some of our events.”
Check here for updates.
Summer camps and swimming pools in Charlottesville are closed for the 2020 summer season. In a statement on their website the Parks and Recreation Department noted that the decision to close camps and pools this summer was not based solely on state orders but by holding discussions between the Parks Department, City Management and City Council.
“It was determined that the safest and fiscally responsible action given these uncertain times was to close the pools and spray grounds for the 2020 operational season. Given the short duration of the outdoor pool season, it is difficult to start operations at a random date in the summer as there are many factors that go into opening and operating a pool,” the department wrote. “We understand that this is disappointing for many residents and for City staff. We are hopeful that the City will be able to re-open some or all of our recreational facilities at a later date if public health risks subside and/or the City’s financial picture stabilizes.”
All programs and events are cancelled through June 10. Summer camps are also cancelled until at least June 10.
You can find more information and updates here.