It was quieter than normal in the Deerfield Primary School gym and cafeteria last week as around 30 children attended the Blair Kids Academy (BKA) summer program.
The nonprofit, which also operates the Blair Community Schools before- and after-school program, reopened June 1 after closing in mid-March due to coronavirus concerns. The program had been limited to groups of 15. Staffing has allowed BKA to host two groups.
“We would usually have 75 to 80 kids for the summer,” BKA Director Dusk Junker said.
Many parents opted to keep their kids at home, which has allowed numbers to remain low.
“The smaller numbers have been nice because we want to make sure it's a safe environment,” she said.
Children have stayed busy with STEAM activities as field trips and visitors are not allowed due to the restrictions.
“We're just make sure there are a lot of supplemental things to do because we do not want bored kids,” Junker said.
On Monday, BKA could double the number of students it could allow following the June 15 announcement by Gov. Pete Ricketts to loosen coronavirus restrictions. Junker said she planned to contact families that have used the summer program in the past before opening it up to the public.
Junker said BKA has adhered to guidelines from the school district, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I was thankful for the guidelines because having those smaller groups make me feel a lot safer about opening up,” Junker said. “The smaller groups were easier to make sure we were following all the guidelines.”
Each group enters through different doors and there is no crossover of children between groups.
“They can wave at each other from a distance,” Junker said.
Staff members ask COVID-19 screening questions and temperatures are taken prior to allowing the children into the building. They also wear masks around the children.
Social distancing has been difficult for the children, especially for the younger ones, Junker said.
“They want to hug. We're doing elbow bumps now,” she said.
Parents have been understanding through all of the changes and new regulations.
“We just haven't had any issues,” Junker said. “I appreciate that because it's just a new world.”