Another summer option for parents, kids closed due to COVID-19

Decatur’s one indoor pool at the Oakhurst Boys and Girls Club. Courtesy of Greg White

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Decatur’s one indoor pool at the Oakhurst Boys and Girls Club. Courtesy of Greg White

The Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta decides the risks are too high to open this summer

After weighing the health risks of operating under a pandemic, the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta has decided to keep its doors closed through most of the summer break.

“Given the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, bringing back staff and kids too soon could pose significant health risks, as well as liability for the organization,” Claire Guitton, the chief operating officer, said in a letter to the organization’s trustees Wednesday.

The nonprofit organization serves nearly 2,800 kids daily, with dozens of locations in and around Atlanta. It joins a long list of operators that decided to keep their buildings closed this summer, forcing parents of younger children to find alternatives if they must leave home for work.

The Boys & Girls Club had remained optimistic, deciding in early May to close only for June while holding out hope for reopening in July. But, like others across the state, it found the challenges were too great.

Many, including the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, had already canceled in-person operations for the season though some, such as the YMCA of Metro Atlanta, will offer modified camp options that comply with new safety rules.

Many have cited shortages of critical supplies, such as disinfectant and masks. Guitton raised similar concerns, adding that new kinds of training needed to be developed and that facilities needed to be modified.

Her group, which has a seat on the new state task force on reopening schools, is planning a familiar alternative for children who have gone through much of a semester of remote schooling: live online programming and Zoom calls, the organization said in a letter to parents.

Owing to Gov. Brian Kemp’s relaxation of sheltering-at-home rules, though, there will be some in-person “social distance style” events, such as drive-thru birthday parties, picnics and parades.