Cansler Family YMCA finding success with kids camps amid COVID-19 concerns

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Cansler Family YMCA has been hosting kids camps, mostly filled with kids of essential workers, since March. Going strong since the height of the pandemic and their track record backs their success.

Since hosting these camps, the Y has had few COVID-19 cases; no kids testing positive according to Rebekah Grace, Cansler Family Y Executive Director.

Grace says a couple of staff members felt ill and quarantined right away. They did test positive and have been following the protocols aligned with the CDC and the Knoxville Health Department. Aside from those staff members, that’s it.

“From March to now we’ve been very lucky,” Grace says “And had really good success maintaining open care and really good childcare for family’s who need it the most.”

The Y staff have been following strict protocols and practices since running the camps.

Protocols include:

  • Temperature checks twice per day
  • Kids and staff wash their hands every hour
  • No parents or visitors allowed in the building
  • Keeping kids to small groups and in the same group
  • Frequent sanitizing; after a toy is done being used, between room transitions, etc.
  • Staff wearing masks
  • Answering questionnaires before entering
  • Encouraging social distancing

While social distancing can be difficult to enforce with young kids, Grace says they get creative by showing the campers how long 6 feet is, social distancing decals on the floors, and encouraging “airplane arms.”

Staff has had to also take a step back and look at configurations of rooms and how to best utilize the space they have to reinforce social distancing.

“Even just thinking logistically about how can we re-organize furniture,” notes Grace surrounded by cycling machines in their front room that they used to host a spin class.

While the Y is working with smaller, controlled groups (as they can limit capacity) the success they have had with managing kids in person amid coronavirus concerns could offer local schools some guidance as they re-open.

“Teachers are smart, administrators are smart, having to just get creative and thinking outside of the box goes a long way,” says Grace.

The Y is planning to hold after school care, but Grace says they are in need of staff.

If you or someone you know is interested in working or volunteering at the Canselor Y, click here.


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