Coronavirus concerns: How Tampa Bay summer camps plan to keep kids safe and how parents can help


CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Between coronavirus and the mysterious illness in children that’s been linked to it, what will summer camp for hundreds of thousands of kids look like?

“Just because things are opening up does not mean the pandemic is ending. This pandemic is going to continue into next year. There’s no doubt about that,” said John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Pediatric Infectious Disease Physician, Dr.Juan Dumois.

8 On Your Side asked him if parents should be worried about sending their kids to camp.

“There’s going to be greater potential for kids to transfer coronavirus between themselves. Most of those kids won’t get very sick, some might, but the bigger risk is when they bring those viruses home,” said Dr. Dumois.

8 On Your Side is looking into what local summer camps are planning to do to keep kids safe and how parents can help before sending their kid out the door.

The staff at the Morningside Recreation Complex in Clearwater is busy preparing for camp to start in 2 weeks. They have a lot of precautions including that every child will get their temperature checked before leaving their car.

Kids will be strongly encouraged to bring and wear their own mask during indoor activities. They’ll be separated into “home pods” which will be groups of 9 or less with the same counselor. Kids will remain with that group for the entire summer. Kids will also have their own arts and crafts supplies.

“Each kid will have a container labeled [with their name]. In that container they’ll have their own arts and crafts projects, own crayons, arts and crafts supplies, glue, that way these will not be shared,” said Clearwater’s Recreation Manager Shaun Beasley said.

Clearwater Emergency Manager Jevon Graham says they will be disinfecting constantly and they have a plan if any child does become sick.

“The very first thing is to make sure we separate them from the other students. We’ll do temperature checks again and then make sure to contact the parent to bring them home. If they are having a fever we’re going to require they don’t return for at least 3 days of being fever free and possibly a doctor’s note,” said Graham.

Graham said the most helpful thing all parents can do keep came safe is keep their child home if they become sick or were recently around someone with coronavirus.

The City of Clearwater announced Wednesday that they’re offering limited-capacity summer camps from June 8 through Aug. 7.

According to the city, new safety precautions will be in place, including daily wellness checks of both staffers and campers and eliminating field trips or large gatherings. Staff members will also be assigned to a group of nine campers. The same group will stay together all day.

“With spaces being limited to maintain CDC physical distancing guidelines, the city will be holding a lottery for camp spaces beginning May 27,” city officials explained. “Clearwater residents, local business owners and city employees will get priority in the lottery.”

You can sign up for the lottery on the City of Clearwater website. Forms will be collected May 19 through 25 and the lottery will be held May 27.

The City of Clearwater Communications Department went on to say that at the Countryside Recreation Center, the Long Center and Morningside Recreation Complex will have summer camps with the following guidelines:

  • Ages 5 (completed kindergarten) to 12
  • June 8 through Aug. 7
  • 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m
  • Participants must sign up for the entire nine-week camp. There are no weekly options.
  • $700 for those paying upfront for the whole summer or $80 per week with $160 due at registration.
  • A limited number of scholarships are available for those who qualify.

The communications department also said this about the Ross Norton Recreation Center summer camps:

  • Ages 5 (completed kindergarten) to 12
  • June 8 through Aug. 7
  • 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • No Cost – Children must be enrolled in the Juvenile Welfare Board sponsored out-of-school time program.
  • Participants must sign up for the entire 9-week camp. There are no weekly options.


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