Even though YMCAs across New York are waiting for state permission to reopen their fitness centers, many facilities have been open for child care services since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
The state provided funding for agencies like the "Y" to make sure child care was provided to the children of doctors, nurses and others who were on the front lines of treating COVID-19. On public radio's The Capitol Pressroom, Kyle Stewart of the Alliance of New York State YMCAs said providing child care while adhering to coronavirus protocols was a challenge.
“Certainly all of those best practices and guidelines are put in place for a reason. We understand that. But we are more than happy to provide childcare. It’s complicated. It’s not easy. But it’s our mission,” Stewart said.
Still, Stewart said fewer children were cared for, and that will be true for YMCA summer day camps, as well.
The YMCA Buffalo Niagara had sent an email to its members anticipating a July 1 opening for its facilities in the region. But then the Cuomo administration announced last week that gyms and malls will stay closed for the time being. Stewart admitted they were blindsided.
"After the description from the Governor's Office that included recreation and some other industries, we certainly saw ourselves falling within Phase Four," he said. "So yeah, we were pretty surprised by the governor's announcement."
Stewart said the exectutive staff of YMCAs across the state had been meeting daily since locations closed in March, and then bi-weekly to develop reopening plans.
At YMCA Buffalo Niagara camps, beginning in July, campers will be assigned to small groups of 10 or fewer children, with one staff member and limited interaction between groups. There will be swimming, but no field trips. There also will be no YMCA overnight camps in our region this summer.
However, YMCA Buffalo Niagara is offering all of its classes on Facebook.