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Summer Playground Remains Cancelled Despite State Rule Change

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In early May, township officials cancelled Verona’s longstanding summer playground program because it was not clear if the state would lift its COVID-19 restrictions on them. On May 29, the state did lift its restrictions and said that youth summer camps will be permitted to operate on or after July 6, provided that they comply with new safety standards.

Today, Jim Cunningham, the director of the Verona Recreation Department, sent out an email to confirm that the summer playground program would not open. “The detail in that executive order,” he said of the governor’s directive, “is that all of the social distancing measure still have to be followed. That makes it very difficult to manage the safety of the children and the staff.”

While the summer playground program is usually held at the elementary schools and H.B. Whitehorne, it could not be held in the schools this summer because of the construction being done under the referendum. “We were planning to use the VCC [Verona Community Center] building,” Cunningham wrote. “That would have put about 300 children in our facility. Keeping them 6 ft apart and using masks for 3 to 6 hours is not doable for the age groups we would have been serving.”

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Cunningham added that the Recreation Department is working on a “Summer Things To Do” guide that will give families information on community activities that follow social distancing guidelines.

And as for the Verona Pool, which is also run by the Recreation Department, Cunningham said he is still hoping to open on July 1, but cautioned that the state must ease its restrictions on outdoor gatherings for that to happen. Current state guidelines limit outdoor gatherings to 25 people.

“We have prepped the facility, the staff and the equipment,” Cunningham wrote. “There will be changes to the daily operation in every attempt to keep the members and the staff safe. When we have the approval, the registration process will begin. Notifications will go out through emails and social media.”

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