Children enrolled in kindergarten through sixth grade in Santa Maria can sign up for a new distance learning camp, which started this week with a small group test run.
Held at the Minami Community Center at 600 West Enos Drive, the camp will be open to the public starting next week, Recreation Services Manager Dennis Smitherman said. The camp’s total capacity is 50 students on a first-come, first-served basis.
IMAGE COURTESY OF SANTA MARIA RECREATION AND PARKS DEPARTMENT
KEEPING ACTIVE Santa Maria’s Recreation and Parks Department announced a new camp to give elementary school students a place to complete their distance learning school days.
“We’re hoping that it's for those parents who don’t have the option to stay home and are considered essential workers,” Smitherman said. “There’s no priority in deciding who’s able to register, though.”
The camp costs $100 per participant, per week. Smitherman said that, currently, there’s no help available to cover the cost of the camp.
“We’ve reached out to a couple potential sponsors, but nothing has come through at this point,” he said.
But with the program rounding out to about 55 hours of child care a week—7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday—the distance learning camp is a remarkably good deal, Smitherman said. It costs less than two dollars per hour, per student.
“It’s really the lowest price we could come up with,” he said. “There’s absolutely no profit being made from this in any way, shape, or form.”
From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., the camp will mirror a normal school day. The city staff who are running it will split children into groups based on grade, allowing each student to complete their daily video class meetings and assignments with peers of a similar age group.
“During the time that the child is not on the Zoom call doing schoolwork, we’re going to be providing activities for them,” Smitherman added.
After the school day finishes at 3 p.m., the city will provide recreation programming for kids until their parents come to pick them up.
“We’re going to focus on the traditional recreation programming that we have here, and that’s a lot of youth sports, some arts and crafts, potentially some expanded programming with some other agencies,” Smitherman said. “It’s so the kids have a chance to socialize. Within safety protocols, of course, we’re making sure that the kids are still able to be kids.”
A typical morning at the camp will start with parents signing their children in. The student will then get their temperature scanned, a symptom check, and an overall health screening. Then, city staff will walk camp goers into the building.
“We try to keep as many adults out of the building as we can, but parents can walk in to check the place out if that would make them feel more comfortable,” Smitherman said.
All children and staff are required to wear face masks, and staff will go through similar health screening processes every day. Smitherman added that the city wrote an extensive COVID-19 precaution plan for the camp and worked with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department to complete attestations for opening. Those interested can register at cityofsantamaria.org/register. ∆