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Daycares, camps reopen with adjustments

Photo by Janelle Patterson Students demonstrate social distancing at the Ely Chapman Education Foundation Monday.

Day camps and daycare centers reopened in Marietta Monday with limited capacity but still spots are open for families needing child care.

“Usually the first day back in the summer we have 55 to 60 kids here and will get up between 70 to 80 through the season, but we are restricting ourselves to a cap of 54 this summer,” explained Alice Chapman, executive director of the Ely Chapman Education Foundation, which offers after-school supplemental tutoring and care during a regular school year and the annual “Sensational Summer Camp” between academic years.

The coronavirus pandemic not only sent children home from their traditional brick and mortar institutions, but also places like Ely Chapman, the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County and the YMCA’s care facility on Colegate Drive in Marietta.

But Monday’s state-allowed reopening brought caregivers both joy and adjustment.

“Show me your social distance,” Chapman called to a group students filing out of a classroom at the facility Monday.

Students immediately spread their arms wide, with distance between each others’ fingertips.

“No, it’s not quite six feet, but six feet doesn’t really have meaning to a preschooler, what does is arms-length apart, keep your hands to yourself and wash your hands,” explained Chapman.

She said the facility is restricting its attendance this summer to nine children per classroom serving kindergarten through eighth-grade students and keeping classroom groups separately scheduled for meal times, outdoor play, gymnasium play and pool time.

“Now my plan especially for K-2 students is to work to get them reeducated in the social skills of school they didn’t necessarily have reinforced at home without their peers,” said Chapman. “Things like raising our hands to speak, not speaking over others and standing in line. Children need a structured system of expectations and a schedule to know what’s coming up in their day.”

At the Marietta Family YMCA, Camp Wild moved from Marietta Middle School to join the preschool classes housed at the Colegate Drive location.

“Today was our first day back opening up,” said Trish Stille, child care director. “We can have 53 in total due to COVID.”

Stille said the facility is also measuring a smaller ratio for students per classroom and per teacher.

The toddler class of 2-year-olds has a ratio of one teacher per six students and the 3- to 5-year-old preschool and school-age classes have a 1:9 ratio.

“And we’ve put up dividers and each class has their own bathroom,” Stille explained.

Both facilities still have spots open on a first-come, first-served basis with deposits securing spots.

Janelle Patterson may be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

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