Coronavirus: Toronto March break camps prepare for COVID-19

With the number of COVID-19 infections rising daily, the organizers of March break camps in Toronto are increasing their level or preparedness to keep children safe.

At the Avenue Road Art School, every studio is full of children creating colourful projects. All around the building are increased reminders of cleanliness amid what is now a pandemic.

Owner Lola Rasminsky said she has been preparing for weeks and is confident the school is ready for an influx of children.

“We disinfect everything at the end of the day,” said Rasminsky. “We disinfect paintbrushes, pencils, markers, we wash all the toys with disinfectant.”

The art school already has a professional cleaner who would visit at the end of each day. But out of an abundance of caution, extra staff has been hired to help clean even more.

With a few days left before March break, Rasminsky said bookings were actually up this year. “I think probably because people have cancelled their travel plans,” she said.

But she said a couple of children had pulled out because the school their children attended had a visitor who had tested positive for the coronavirus. “They were voluntarily isolating their kids,” said Rasminsky.

Other locations hosting children next week have also beefed up their sanitation efforts. The Harbourfront Centre is getting ready to host around 300 children and ahead of that, more hand sanitizers have been added in high traffic areas. Some activities usually seen in its programming have also been modified to err on the side of caution.

Despite those efforts, the centre’s manager of recreational learning, Rankin Middlebrook,  said about three families cancelled their bookings over COVID-19 fears. The number of cancellations over health concerns is actually small, considering the usual numbers they see in a given year. Middlebrook said in 2019 the centre saw about 23 cancellations, versus about 19 in total this year.

“We’re happy that parents are making the choices that they feel, but we’re also going to make sure that we are doing what we can to still run that safe program,” said Middlebrook.

Some other programs expecting high numbers of children next week, like the GTA YMCA say it’s still too early to see the impact of the virus on March Break Camps. But like almost all facilities which have posted warning notices, it is asking anyone not feeling well, to stay home.

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