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City to provide weekday distance learning camp
distance learning camp
The City of Turlock held a socially distant summer camp at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in July and is now hosting a distance learning camp during the school year at the fairgrounds (Photo contributed).

The City of Turlock is presenting an option for parents who may have trouble juggling distance learning and their jobs this fall with a weekday camp that will mimic a school day.

Enrollment begins at 8 a.m. Wednesday for the Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Department’s Distance Learning Camp, which will provide both educational support as well as games and activities for elementary school students. According to the department’s Director Allison Van Guilder, the City is offering the camp in accordance with all state, county and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in order to provide a safe place for children to be while their parents or guardians are at work.

Turlock students will not return to school campuses immediately for the 2020-2021 academic year on Aug. 12, but will be learning from home until it is safe to return amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We understand many families are working hard to find options for their children while they are at work during the school day. We also recognize this camp may not be the solution for all families, but we are eager to support those who choose to participate,” Van Guilder said.

The Distance Learning Camp will be held from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday beginning Aug. 12 at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds. Van Guilder said that the camp’s $110 weekly fee is comparable to similar programs being offered by other cities and will help to offset costs associated staffing, supplies, equipment and the rental of a building at the fairgrounds.

The camp will accept a limited number of students on a first-come, first-serve basis depending on staffing levels and available space, and financial assistance is available for those who qualify.

When the Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Department posted a flyer for the camp to its Facebook page, the community weighed in.

“How is this different from sending the kids to school?” Chelsea Gray asked. “Seems like an easy way to spread the virus to employees and children.”

“Seems like a great idea for those who are nervous about getting their kiddos ready,” Dolly Hoover Figurell wrote. “Nice job!”

Van Guilder said that the City is optimistic about providing a safe environment for children despite the pandemic, seeing as they recently hosted a four-week summer camp following the same model without incident. At the Distance Learning Camp, students will be placed in groups of 10 to limit exposure and be overseen by trained staff from the City’s after school programs.

For parents who are unsure about sending their children to a day camp while schools have been closed to help curb the spread of COVID-19, Van Guilder provided an explanation.

“The camp program we are offering will only be able to serve a very small number of students compared to the number of students in a regular school setting. The ability to socially distance students from one another is much more manageable in a camp setting because participants will be assigned to pods of 10 students per staff person,” she said. “They will remain with that group of participants for the entire week to limit ‘mixing’ of the other participants.”

In addition, there will be daily health screenings for all students involved and all participants must sign a waiver to attend the camp. Masks are required for students in third through sixth grade as well as staff, and encouraged for students in kindergarten through second grade. During the camp students will participate in scheduled distance learning time, organized group and individual activities, lunch and snack times and outdoor play.

To register for the City’s Distance Learning Camp, visit city. For more information, call 209-668-5594.