Federation targets opening JCC early childhood & camp with state mandates in place June 8
By Marshall Weiss, The Observer
The Jewish Federation has set a target date of June 8 to open its JCC early childhood program and JCC summer camp, allowing staff the time to put in place all mandatory and best practices of the Ohio Department of Health’s Responsible Restart Ohio plan and Stay Safe Ohio order connected to the Covid-19 pandemic.
JCC Early Childhood Care & Education will resume its operations at the Boonshoft Center for Jewish Culture and Education in Centerville; JCC Camp Shalom will be held this summer at Temple Beth Or in Washington Township instead of at the CJCE campus.
Moving the camp will allow more children to attend amid the state’s social distancing requirements, Cathy Gardner, CEO of the Jewish Federation, said.
“Although we’re allowed to open June 1 for preschool and summer camp, an extra week to open them gives us a more reasonable amount of time to put in place all these new protocols and the required training to operate camp at a different site.”
Ohio Department of Health’s requirements for child care providers indicate there should be no more than six infants or toddlers in a classroom, with one teacher to no more than six children, and a maximum of nine older children in a class, with one teacher to no more than nine.
For youth day camps, the requirement is no more than nine children in a room, and one day camp staff member per nine school-age children.
The Federation will assign two teachers to each early childhood classroom, and two camp staff members to each room of campers.
Gardner said the camp’s move to Temple Beth Or will enable it to accommodate approximately 50 to 60 children over the summer, slightly down from the 60 to 70 children enrolled in the camp over each of the past few summers.
“If we were to have camp at the CJCE, we could only have 27 kids because we only have three separate rooms,” she said. “Temple Beth Or is unused over the summer. I called Rabbi Judy Chessin and she and her leadership were graciously enthusiastic about it. They have a playground, lots of classrooms, two separate areas for indoor activities, a lounge upstairs, a kitchen we can make kosher, gaga pits, basketball hoops. It allows for much better controlled social distancing and it’s close to our location.”
Federation can’t set a daily class schedule for early childhood until it determines how many children will be registered.
“We anticipate the number of parents who want their children in preschool will be less than what we had previously,” she said. “If not, we’ll have to alternate groups at different times.”
Ahead of Ohio’s preschool closures, the Federation closed the JCC’s early childhood program March 17. At the time, 105 children were in the program.
The Federation has established a reentry task force to look at all elements of resuming its operations, including human resources, finances, fundraising, communications, security, and its facility.
The Federation task force includes legal, human resources, and medical professionals.
Along with Ohio’s requirements and best practices guidelines, the task force is relying on detailed reopening guidelines from Secure Community Network, the national security initiative of Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
“We met with our Jewish Community Security Committee, and Federation’s operations director, Roger Apple, will coordinate the purchase of masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer,” Gardner added. “We’ll buy it in bulk and that way, we can help all of the Jewish organizations in the community.”
Regarding the rest of Jewish Federation’s employees across its agencies and departments, Gardner said they can choose to work from home.
“There’s no reason to bring everybody back into the building if they can work from home,” she said. “Most of us don’t have to be in the building right now. To ensure maximum social distancing, this will make it safer.”