Families begin making plans for summer activities

Families are gearing up for a summer filled with more activities than last while restrictions at summer camps, pools and museums continue.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Families are gearing up for a summer filled with more activities than last while restrictions at summer camps, pools and museums continue.

Mother Nikki Stultz first sent her five-year-old to summer camp at Junior Graduates Enrichment Center in the summer of 2020.

Stultz said she knew her child needed something else to keep her stimulated rather than sitting at home all summer long and precautions at the center were thorough enough for Stultz.

“We’re going to keep the same things in place,” said Graduates Enrichment Center Junior Graduates Enrichment Center owner Janis Bond. “We’re still doing curbside or lobby drop-off and pick-up, we don’t accept parents or caretakers inside the building past the lobby, our school-aged kids grade K-5 are required to wear masks, pre-k school students are not.”

Camps like Bond’s have begun to take registrations for families wanting to send their children. Summer camps in Hilliard will also feature kids wearing masks and focus on them staying outside to help limit the spread of COVID. Camps for Columbus will be set up with similar safety protocols.

Stultz said she is considering other activities like trampoline parks and parks in their neighborhood.

“The kids need something else to do besides sitting at home all the time not doing anything, they need to be out dealing with their peers and stuff like that,” Stultz said.

Stultz said she’s still monitoring pools and splash pad protocols to see if her daughter will be safe in those spaces.

In Columbus, all eight community pools Columbus Recreation and Parks Outdoor Pools will go through a phased-in reopening plan beginning Memorial Day Weekend, will have limited capacity and online registration is encouraged.

“We’ll have a queue available because there isn’t a registration system because there isn’t a fence around our splash pad area so we’re going to ask that folks line up and we’ll make sure that everyone has an experience to enjoy the water,” said Columbus Parks and Recreation Community Relations Chief Sophia Fifner.

In Hilliard, community pools and splash pads will also open to the public. Those with the Parks and Recreation Department said people hoping to attend must sign up online before showing up to the pool.

Attendees will be able to book a two-hour time slot at a pool, no more than three days a week to allow for more visitors.

“Each two-hour period afterward we have a half an hour where our entire staff is all hands on deck. We’re disinfecting, we’re getting ready for the next group to come in and then the next wave of people comes in, they’ll get their two hours, and we’ll do the same thing,” said Aquatics Supervisor Anastasia Bradley.

Indoor activities like COSI are scheduled to be open to families this summer. COSI leaders announced a reopen date of June 3 with online tickets available to limit capacity.

COSI installed a new HVAC unit allowing for cleaner air, will have more than 100 hand sanitizer stations throughout the facility and will require those who attend to wear masks.

“There’s a few places throughout our building where physical distancing isn’t possible. I’ll give you a few examples,” said Josh Sarver, Vice President of Exhibits and Programs at COSI. “Like our submarine or our mercury space capsule that you have to climb into, those particular experiences we will have those blocked off for the time being until the health order for social and physical distancing are removed.”

Sarver said one thing people will not see change is hand-on science experiments allowing people to touch exhibits to understand how they function.

“We’re a hands-on science museum, so everything we have is all about learning and touching with your hands and that’s super important and w will still have that available,” Sarver said.

COSI will have new hours during the summer, opening four days a week from Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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