Dickinson’s Park & Recreation Department officially declared the opening of all programs throughout the summer of 2020. However, some modifications had to be made in order for the department to officially declare it safe for the opening of summer programs, including continuing the delay of re-opening the indoor and outdoor pool at the West River Community Center.

Programs such as make and take crafts, play park, youth tennis lessons, and kids cooking classes will be taking place throughout the summer with registration still available. The Park & Recreation board stated that while they are looking forward to the summer programs, safety is still the main priority.

“We are going to keep everyone in mind and keep participants’ safety in mind,” Matt Mack, the director of recreation/facilities reports, said. “We’ve established just some kind of general guidelines for our program supervisors to follow when they are working on these programs …. Some of those modifications include limiting our participation numbers in programs, breaking participants into smaller groups at the site, and modifying each of the activities within each program, so that we can keep kids spaced apart as much as we can and keep them safe.

Mack added, “We’ve also established cleaning procedures to include disinfection of any and all equipment used in services and facilities, we’re providing hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes for both participants and the staff to use we are encouraging face coverings for the participants to wear, they aren’t required and the park district will not be providing them for the participants, but as parents are signing their kids up for these programs we are encouraging that.”

Mack said he wanted to ensure the participants and the staff are safe, therefore all employees will be tested for the coronavirus and should a staff member display any signs of illness or fever, appropriate actions would be taken.

While the summer programs are still open and sign-ups available, league openings for sports such as softball and golf are closed as a result of teams already being formed and scheduling currently underway. Mack added that the seasons will be played, with only the first few games being delayed.

“Our summer softball league, which was supposed to start last Monday, we pushed back to June 1st and our golf league we also pushed back to June 1,” he said.

While Mack added all summer programs are to be continued as stated on the 2020 Parks & Recreation summer program event packet, swimming is the only program in question. Facilities throughout the state continue to keep their pools closed due to little information known about COVID-19 and pools.

“We don’t have any information on that currently and so we’re trying to figure out if our swim lessons are going to be affected in some way,” he said. “Even with our indoor pools, we just don’t know at this point in time, we’re waiting. We do know that some guidelines are being worked on and we’ve had our lifeguards go through training already on most of the things we want to establish, most of them could change once those guidelines come out. Once they come out we will evaluate what we need to do, and then get those pools open as soon as we safely and possibly can.”

While some families may be skeptical about the reopening of summer programs, Mack stated Parks & Recreation will continue to do everything they can to make sure people feel safe, welcomed, and comfortable at all times.

“As long as people feel comfortable to register for our programs, we’re going to take all the proper steps needed to ensure the safety of all of our participants to the best of our ability,” he said. “These recreational activities are just as important for physical and mental health, we’ll have our opportunities available for those who wish to partake in them.”