More than 50 Jewish summer camps are pressing upstate officials to let them host thousands of Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox kids in a matter of only weeks, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The Brooklyn-based Association of Jewish Camp Operators wrote a letter to Sullivan County officials, pleading with them to allow the overnight camps to open — many as early as the end of June — and to not contact Gov. Cuomo about shutting down the operations.
“We are writing to you to request that Sullivan County representatives understand the overnight camp plans for operation this summer, and not send a letter to Governor Cuomo requesting that overnight camps not be allowed to operate in Sullivan County this summer,” association officials wrote.
In the letter, dated May 5, the consortium also promised the camps would be “run differently this summer” because of the deadly outbreak.
All children and staff members would be tested before coming to the camps, they said, and a “full and complete lockdown” would be enforced once on site, with no field trips or outside visitors allowed. Staff members could not leave the grounds on their days off.
If an outbreak would occur, the group pledged that local hospitals wouldn’t be “overwhelmed” because anyone who falls ill would be taken to city hospitals by Hatzolah, a volunteer emergency medical services group.
The association is considering closing non-overnight camps, they said.
The letter comes after the Union for Reform Judaism, which represents the largest Jewish denomination in the US, announced April 30 that it would cancel its overnight camps for the first time since 1947. The Union serves 10,000 kids at 15 camps nationwide.
Sullivan County’s health director, Nancy McGraw, told town supervisors that she opposed opening any summer camps in the county this year, according to Hamodia.com.
“My recommendation up to this point is that we do not open given the current circumstances,” McGraw said earlier this month.
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