Duluth child care center pivots to summer camp program

The facility hopes to help children who may be missing out on a summer camp program this summer.

FILE: University Nursery School
Preschoolers play at a University Nursery School location in early 2019. (News Tribune / file)

With the closure of numerous summer camps due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Duluth's University Nursery School is launching its own summer camp experience for school-age children.

The program is for children ages 5-11 and will mimic summer camp experiences, like trips, arts and craft projects, science experiments and more, CEO Kathleen Das said. It's expected to begin in the next week, pending state approval, and will be run out of the school's Harbor Highlands location.

The school saw a drop in child care numbers when the pandemic began, leaving additional space they decided could be used in a new way, Das said.

"Because many of the summer camps are closed to some of them, we felt we might be able to help out people who needed ... school-aged care," she said.

Children's temperatures are tested every day before they enter school facilities, and their health is discussed between parents and providers. Staff also often wear gloves and use hand sanitizer, Das said.


If a child does become ill, they will be isolated from the rest of the group until a guardian picks them up. Staff also leave the program if they become ill, she said.

The pandemic is causing the school to rethink summer camp experiences. They may eventually take children to parks and other areas in the city once they open, but they're limited to their facility for now. Here, they will be playing outside, practicing math and science, and cooking food from various cultures, like various types of rice and breads.

It will be "a have fun thing to do the children," she said.

The program's two teachers have degrees in elementary education and special education, and have worked in summer camps before. "So, (they) really are ready to go with this program," Das said.

The program will run from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, and up to 30 children will be accommodated.

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