WESTFIELD, NJ — Recreation department officials say state guidelines from Trenton lack detail on how to proceed with summer activities, as the town tries to safely return to normalcy amid the coronavirus.
Instructions for seasonal activities like summer camps, pools and even graduation are murky, officials said. Some programs, like opening the Westfield Memorial Pool, are ready to go, but are still waiting on more state guidelines. Instructions for other activities, like graduation, currently contradict existing restrictions.
“We’re still waiting for guidelines and recommendations [from the Governor] and we really can't finalize anything,” said Aquatic Supervisor Heather Re, on opening Memorial Pool.
Board of Education Liaison Peggy Oster said that current state restrictions, like allowing only 25 people at gatherings, makes outdoor graduations logistically challenging.
“With a class of 480, we would have to hold 20 to 25 gradations,” she said. “Not that we think that would even be meaningful for anybody. Unless a directive comes that either [Murphy] increases the number of people outside, or he makes an exception for graduation that groups can be larger.”
Oster added that July 30 is the tentative date for high school graduation.
Don Bogardus, the director of recreation, said the Governor’s announcement of opening summer camps had “no other information” except the date, and the department is still trying to determine if summer camp is even feasible. Other programs, he added, also need more clarifications.
“[Murphy] gave a date for starting youth sports, but it was lacking a bit of information,” he said. “What's considered a non-contact sport?”
Summer camps may be held at Tamaques Park or Memorial Pool, since restrooms are available there and current state guidelines don’t allow students back in schools. If summer camp is still not feasible, the town may resort to “camp in a box,” with boxes of activities sent to would-be campers.
Until then, Westfield is waiting on Trenton.
“We want to get this stuff out to people, we just need to know where we're going with it,” Bogardus said.
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