CityWatch: New York governor green-lights summer day camps to open at the end of the month

“This summer, more than ever before, children need camp for their mental well-being,” Lupert said.

A decision on sleepaway camps has yet to be made, and the governor did not go into any more detail regarding plans for the reopening of day camps.

As recently as two weeks ago, Cuomo had been hesitant about reopening camps.

“Until we have this answer on this pediatric syndrome, as a parent, until I know how widespread this is, I would not send my children to day camp,” the governor said on May 21. “If I would not send my children to day camp, then I would not ask anyone to send their children to day camp.”

The pediatric syndrome the governor referred to is Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children, or MIS-C, which is associated with COVID-19. The condition causes inflammation of different body parts, including the heart, lungs, brain, skin or eyes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The State Department of Health is currently investigating 190 reported cases of MIS-C in New York children in addition to three deaths.

At Asphalt Green, which has locations on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and in Battery Park City, organizers were confident that they would be allowed to reopen day camp in some capacity for the summer, even prior to the governor’s announcement Tuesday, but stressed that there would be a new normal.

Day camps at the nonprofit organization will be “reconfigured from beginning to end,” according to Asphalt Green camp director Katie Duffy.

That means fewer campers, changing up activities and restructuring the day. Even lunch, which would typically be served family style, will be rethought. The camp will also be implementing health checks each morning, she said.

Along with a ramped-up focus on physical health, mental health will also be addressed in a larger capacity this year, too.

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“We have built that into our staff training this year; it’s absolutely something that we expect to be more aware of this year than ever before,” Duffy said. “Coming out of what has been reality for the last couple of months will be jarring for people. We’re adding extra sensitivity training for that with our staff in preparation for campers and staff.”

Camp, “will be different, it will look different, but we still want to create that community and the magic of camp,” Duffy said.

The ruling on day camps in New York echoes that in neighboring New Jersey, where on Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that day camps will be able to operate from July 6.

“We want our children to be able to enjoy their summer with friends participating in the activities that create lifelong memories,” Murphy said. “Our camps are also the places that give older kids the chance to have their first jobs as counselors.”

In New York on Tuesday, metrics continued to paint an optimistic picture of the state’s progress in the fight against coronavirus.

The number of hospitalizations are down, the number of new Covid cases walking in the door is at an all-time low, 154,” Cuomo said in his daily news conference.

Also see: Pandemics affect everyone: What’s this one doing to the kids?

The number of deaths on Monday stood at 58, “just about as low as we have seen it,” the governor said. “We’re doing very, very well when it comes to dealing with the Covid-19 crisis.”

Camps across New York had been long awaiting direction from the state when it was delivered on Tuesday, but for some, the uncertainty continues.

The state is “still reviewing the situation with sleepaway camps,” Cuomo said.

A prolonged lack of decision is detrimental for sleepaway camps—many of which have already decided to close this summer—since they need more preparation time to open up their doors, according to Lupert.

“We were hoping for an earlier announcement, giving camps more time to get ready,” Lupert said. “We still have a number of overnight camps hoping to open this summer, and we hope Gov. Cuomo will recognize the benefits of overnight camp for children and announce soon that they can open.”

The American Camp Association accredits more than 2,400 camps nationwide and “our camps are ready to provide testing, additional health screenings, smaller group sizes and additional sanitizing and cleaning all to provide children with a safe summer camp experience,” Lupert said.

Other coronavirus developments Tuesday:

Curfew: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that a curfew will be in place across the city from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. until Sunday amid looting and violence.

Reopening: Western New York entered Phase 2 in its reopening process Tuesday and the Capital Region is on track to reach the milestone on Wednesday, Cuomo said.

National Guard: De Blasio has said that there is no need to deploy the National Guard in New York City. Though Gov. Cuomo had offered to deploy the force, “we do not need nor do we think it’s wise for the National Guard to be in New York City nor any armed forces,” de Blasio said.

NYPD: Cuomo criticized how the NYPD and the mayor handled the chaos and looting across New York City on Monday night. “The NYPD and the mayor did not do their job last night,” Cuomo said. “It was rampant looting across the city last night that they did not stop.”

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