With the extension of Gov. Tim Walz’s stay at home order, summer youth programs could be one of the next activities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Crookston Parks and Recreation Director Scott Riopelle said the city is currently discussing summer programs and hope to have a decision about whether they will proceed with them next week. “We’re currently discussing it with the staff and the park board,” said Riopelle.  “Some individuals looking to see how we can safely operate any of the programs and keep everybody out of harm’s way.  Not only the participants but the staff as well.  Hopefully, early next week we will have a decision on that.  Right now, there is nothing definitive, but we have been talking about it for quite some time.”

On Thursday, Gov. Walz spoke about youth programs discussing ways to socially distance in youth sports activities such as baseball.  Riopelle said the city hasn’t joined state-wide conversations on youth baseball and softball, but they have been speaking with local communities to see what they might be doing. “We’ve only had discussions with people in our leagues and stuff around here,” said Riopelle. “With some of our area communities to see what they’re doing. We have not spoken to the state.”

Summer programs and activities are usually available throughout the day, meaning they can serve as a de facto child care for some families. Riopelle said the fact some families utilize the program in that way is being weighed as part of the decision-making process. “There are people that do utilize us as day care for their kids,” said Riopelle. “It gives them something to do for part of the day.  That weighs into our decision as well.  We’re looking at all facets of it. It’s not an easy decision but hopefully, we’ll have something soon.”