Lake County, CA (June 11, 2020) – 2019-20 was another school year interrupted by disaster in Lake County, and brought a sudden transition to distance-based learning. With all residents ordered to Shelter-in-Place, many families were asked to choose between following the law and keeping their neighbors and the vulnerable safe, and providing same- or similar-aged peer interaction, crucial to social development. Opportunities for active play were suddenly limited, and parents scrambled to adjust to losses of income and home-based work, while doing their best to meet the unexpected and critical need to support the formal education of their children.
Clearly, summer activities and recreational opportunities for children and youth are even more important than usual for many Lake County families. Happily, because we continue to progress through Stage Three of the Governor’s Resilience Roadmap, and COVID-19 activity has remained manageable, day camps and other non-overnight educational/recreational activities for children and youth are permitted to open/reopen as of June 12, 2020, with modifications.
Safely opening these activities requires training and support for staff/volunteers, adequate supplies, and appropriate consideration of the needs of children and families. On Friday, June 8th, the Governor’s office and California Department of Public Health jointly released guidelines for the safe opening/reopening of day camps for children and youth, noting implementation of these guidelines should be tailored for each setting.
The State’s guidance emphasized all decisions surrounding implementation of the recommendations should be made in collaboration with local health officials and other authorities. Relevant considerations included levels of COVID-19 community transmission and the capacity of local public health and healthcare systems to respond to an increase in cases.
With this in mind, Lake County Public Health, in conjunction with First 5 Lake County, has created localized program guidance, aligned with the State’s recommendations, along with a thorough checklist to help program directors prepare for safe reopening.
To create locally relevant and applicable guiding documents, we reached out to nonprofits, schools, churches, agencies and businesses that typically provide summer activities for Lake County children, and engaged them in providing feedback as these forms were developed.
It was inspiring to hear the thoughtful approaches to safely reopening offered by each of these leaders. We are richly fortunate that Lake County communities recognize the need to support the growth of the youngest among us, and there are dedicated people stepping up to meet profound needs.
If you haven’t volunteered to support local children and youth in the past, now is a great time to start. Your help is needed, and this May 27 article from the Brookings Institution describes just some of the potential effects on student achievement of COVID-19:
All children’s programs in Lake County must take prescribed precautions, and make their completed checklist available to participating families or public officials, on request.
The guidance and checklist for Lake County day camps and other non-overnight children’s programming is available here: http://health.co.lake.ca.us/Coronavirus/Daycamps.htm
Sector-specific reopening guidance can be found here: https://covid19ca.gov/industry-guidance
If you review this information ad still have questions, reach out to County of Lake Health Services staff, at [email protected] or 707-263-8174.
Thank you for doing all you can to support Lake County children and youth.
Gary Pace, MD, MPH
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