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Transcript of JoCo on the Go podcast 06/16/2020

Theresa Freed [00:00:00] On this episode hear from some of our Johnson County Park and Recreation District experts, they'll tell you about beach and marina openings. You'll also find out how sporting activities look different this summer season with physical distancing in mind. Finally, JCPRD summer programs are a highlight during the break from school here about the steps being taken during the pandemic to keep children and staff healthy.

Announcer [00:00:22] Whether you live in or just love Johnson County, Kansas, JoCo on the Go has everything Johnson County. Here's what's happening and what's coming up in the community you call home.

Theresa Freed [00:00:35] Thanks for joining us for JoCo on the Go. I'm your host Theresa Freed, a Johnson County resident and employee of Johnson County Government. Summer is here, but so is COVID-19. So today we're talking to several guests from Johnson County Park and Recreation District about how residents can enjoy the great outdoors and still protect public health. Let's start with Richard Smalley. He's the marketing and communications manager there. So are marinas and beaches open this summer?

Richard Smalley [00:01:01] The Shawnee Mission Park Marina opened on June 1st with daily operating hours. And the beach at Shawnee Mission Park opened on June 12th with Friday, Saturday and Sunday hours. Now at Kill Creek Park Marina, which operates out of Kill Creek Park Beach House, that opens on June 20th with Saturday and Sunday hours. And all three facilities will complete their summer seasons on August 9th. The Kill Creek Park Beach will not be open for swimming or sunbathing this year.

Theresa Freed [00:01:34] And what can people rent at the marinas?

Richard Smalley [00:01:36] Both marinas, rent canoes, kayaks and paddleboards and Shawnee Mission Park Marina also rents pedal boats. All watercraft rentals must be completed online in advance at jcprd.com/marinas. You can find the rental rates there. Reservations closed one hour prior to the actual rental time. Boat rentals will be offered every other hour to allow an hour in-between time for the staff to sanitize the facility, boats and equipment.

Theresa Freed [00:02:06] So what's different about the operations this year as far as dealing with the coronavirus?

Richard Smalley [00:02:10] Operational safety modifications will involve encouraging physical distancing for people who are not from the same household, frequent sanitizing watercraft and facilities, and advance registration to use the facilities. Other modifications at the marinas include one way walkways to enter and exit the dock and patrons will be asked to enter and exit the boat without assistance from staff members. You have to go online to jcprd.com to make your advance registration. There are no walk-up reservations this year. When you do go online, you will see icons on the home page to direct you to rental reservations for both the marina and time at the beach.

Theresa Freed [00:02:52] And what are the hours for the marina?

Richard Smalley [00:02:54] Hours for the Shawnee Mission Park Marina. Are 10 to seven, daily. Boat rentals are offered in one hour increments at 10, noon, two, four and six p.m. The marina will close at four on July Fourth and August 9th, which is the last day of the season. Beginning June 20th, Kill Creek Park Marina will be open from noon to six on Saturday, noon to four on Sunday. The marina is closed Monday through Friday.

Theresa Freed [00:03:23] And when can people visit the beach?

Richard Smalley [00:03:25] Shawnee Mission Park Beach will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and visitors can choose from one or two time blocks offered from noon to two or from three to five. Space islimited to 75 visitors during any given time block to allow for physical distancing. We're limiting the number of guests to 75 per time block and, like the marina, you need to bring in a printed or digital receipt to help speed up check in. We opened up the entire shoreline as the area for people to swim so they can spread out more. And we have a split entrance and exit lanes for separation of patrons as they come and go.

Theresa Freed [00:04:05] Anything else you want to add?

Richard Smalley [00:04:07] Yeah, open water swim training is not going to be offered at either beach this year. And because the two community pools where the lessons would normally happen are not opening this season, we're not going to be able to offer swim lessons at all this year.

Theresa Freed [00:04:22] Next step, we're going to talk with Shannon Sonnier, the assistant superintendent of recreation, with information about sports at JCPRD. So how has the pandemic impacted sporting activities?

Shannon Sonnier [00:04:33] For the past few months, the Sports and Facilities Department at Johnson County Park and Recreation District has worked diligently to prepare for the return of sports activities. We recognize how important sports are to the families that we are lucky enough to have play with us and wanted to make sure that we did it with their safety in mind. In the past few weeks, we've hosted baseball and fast pitch tournaments at our Mid-America and Mid-America West Sports complexes. If you happen to come in or stop by, it may have looked different than previous experiences. Our bleachers have been roped off to encourage spectators to spread out in their own chairs throughout the complex. Signage encouraging social distancing and handwashing is spread around every field. Teams coming in and leaving the field have been asked to pick up the trash in their dugouts and help our sanitation efforts by wiping down the player benches with disinfectant. Games have been scheduled in a manner to minimize overlap between teams coming in and teams leaving. Our bathrooms are being closed often to allow our maintenance staff time to sanitize them on a more frequent basis. While we do encourage and expect good sportsmanship, a tip of the cap works just as well as slapping hands. We hope between our staff and the public, each doing their part, we can all keep each other safe.

Theresa Freed [00:05:49] Do we know how long these measures will need to remain in place?

Shannon Sonnier [00:05:51] Organizationally, we look at this issue daily and remain committed to adjusting as needed. We connect with other local sports organizations to ensure that we are all operating on the same page as much as possible. We also connect with the Kansas Recreation and Park Association to make sure that we know what is going on in the region. Finally, we lean upon local health departments for guidance and assistance in our decision making. I believe some of these adjustments, such as signage encouraging handwashing and social distancing, will be in place for a long time. Without knowing what the future holds, we will continue to monitor and be prepared to pivot our practices as needed to provide the safest possible experience.

Theresa Freed [00:06:33] Any other information for our listeners?

Shannon Sonnier [00:06:35] Mid-America and Mid America West Sports Complexes both received a much needed upgrade this past offseason. All the fields of both complexes now have new 40 foot and added backstops and black eight foot chain link fencing, expanded bullpen's dugouts and shaded bleacher structures were also added. All of these improvements were welcome additions to these heavily used and loved complexes. Even better, the progress will continue in the future. JCPRD is making a significant investment in these complexes, recognizing the tremendous amount of use and the value as an economic driver to the region. This winter, we will see all new LED lighting at Mid-America Sports Complex. Four Fields converted to artificial turf and an all new destination concession stand. We hope to see you out at the ballpark.

Theresa Freed [00:07:26] And finally, we have with us Jennifer Anderson. She's the children's services manager with Johnson County Park and Recreation District. She has details on summer programs for youth. To start off with, what precautions are you taking in the camps to reduce the risk of disease transmission?

Jennifer Anderson [00:07:42] JCPRD was a leader in developing recommendations for the child care programs in the state of Kansas. We took it a step further, actually, when we opened our camps to ensure that we were taking every precaution to keep our children and staff safe. We reduced camp sizes and have kept kids indoors and staff in the same groups each day, encouraging social distancing in everything that we do. Each group has, incidentally, become a little family, and staff are loving the relationships that are being built in the setting, actually. Staff are checking children in curbside each day and this eliminates the need for parents to come into the camp space. And those check-ins include a quick temperature check and a series of questions to ensure that everyone is safe and healthy to enter camp. Frequently touched surfaces, are cleaned and disinfected multiple times throughout the day, and shared supplies and equipment are also wiped down in between, each group's use. And hand washing is taking place, at least hourly. So that's a big focus for us because that's the first line of defense. In years past, we've always taken the kids swimming three times a week as well as other field trips. But we felt like this year we weren't willing to take that unnecessary risk. So all of our programming is being done onsite to eliminate community exposure and transportation. Social distancing on a school bus is next to impossible. So those are the main things that we're doing to reduce the spread of germs. And the kids are just having a great time.

Theresa Freed [00:09:19] So do the kids have to wear masks?

Jennifer Anderson [00:09:21] This is a question that a lot of people ask when they call. Kids do not have to wear masks, with the exception of the school based camps in Shawnee Mission, where the school district has made that a requirement. Otherwise, children are welcome to wear a mask, but it is not required. Staff, however, must wear masks at all times when they're inside a building or otherwise in close proximity to others. We don't require them to wear a mask when they're outside in the heat or when it might otherwise negatively affect their health. But otherwise, we expect staff to have a mask on to ensure that they're protecting the others.

Theresa Freed [00:09:59] Should parents feel comfortable sending their children to camp?

Jennifer Anderson [00:10:02] This is a question that we get a lot, and my answer is absolutely. My daughter grew up in the JCPRD camps and she was actually a camp counselor last summer before going to college. You know, I care about these kids. I care about our staff. We wouldn't open these camps unless we felt like what we were doing was enough to make it safe for them. Not to mention they're having a great time. But safety is our number one priority. And, you know, parents have to work. And kids need kids and, you know, fun, structured environments for the summer. And I feel like we're doing everything we can. Going by CDC guidelines, state guidelines, using our best practices and and going above and beyond to make sure that it's safe for everybody.

Theresa Freed [00:10:55] When do camps open and where are they located?

Jennifer Anderson [00:10:58] Our camps are all open right now. Three of the school aged camps opened on May 26, but the remaining 33 locations opened on June 1st. We have 10 camps located in parks throughout the county, and the remaining 26 locations are in elementary schools in DeSoto, Gardner, Olathe and Shawnee Mission. We also offer a camp for early childhood development in Roeland Park and half day nature programs, nature play, preschool programs in Shawnee and privilege.

Theresa Freed [00:11:31] So is it too late to sign up for camp?

Jennifer Anderson [00:11:33] It is not too late to sign up. While some of our camps are at capacity, even with that, you know, reduced capacity. We have several openings in both indoor and outdoor camps. So if you go to jcprdkids.com, that stands for Johnson County Park and Recreation District, jcprdkids.com and look for our Camps section. You'll have some opportunities to look at indoor camps, outdoor camps, camps for 11 to 14 year olds. We have several options on there and we do have some space available in in several of those camps. So look at it, see if there's anything that that interests you. And if you have any questions, people can always call our registration office at 831-3359. And again, 831-3359. And we're having a great time. We'd love to welcome a few more kiddos into our camps. And you can come have fun with us and and see what we're doing this summer.

Theresa Freed [00:12:38] And what activities are available at camp?

Jennifer Anderson [00:12:41] In previous years, like I said, we've taken kids swimming and and on other field trips. But since those trips have been eliminated, our staff has had the opportunity to really get creative. They play games and sports and do cooking activities and arts and crafts and STEM activities, which is Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and STEAM, which also includes Art. Outside activities. And everybody's camp favorite seems to be water play. So they're having a really great time with that. It really reminds me of a good old fashioned summer camp experience, kind of like when I was a kid. So it's something that they're going to remember for years and really they're going to remember it because they're doing all of these, you know, basic activities that are fun and engaging. And that's what people remember.

Theresa Freed [00:13:33] Thank you all for being here and thanks for listening.

Announcer [00:13:37] You just heard JoCo on the Go. Join us next time for more everything Johnson County, have a topic you want to discuss? We want to hear from you. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at JoCoGov. For more on this podcast, visit jocogov.org/podcast. Thanks for listening.