Update on COVID-19 including
Safety Procedures and LIVE Virtual Options
How we are keeping kids safe, and providing unique options, flexibility, and benefits
Empow Studios, directly and in collaboration with our dozens of schools and education partners, is taking several important steps to navigate the challenges of COVID-19 and provide the best possible solutions to parents. We would like to take this opportunity to share our approach and answer your questions about spring classes and upcoming summer camp programs. As of June 4th, the following On-Campus Summer Camps have been postponed until 2021: Boston-Jamaica Plain, Cambridge Montessori, Cape Cod Academy, Milton, North Andover, Reading, and Somerville. All camps remain available as LIVE Virtual options.
- +Do we still plan to offer summer camp?
As of June 4, 2020, Empow’s summer camp programs are still active and accepting enrollments, but the weeks of June 22nd and June 29th will be designated as Virtual Camps Only. Campers impacted by this change will be contacted directly by Empow Studios, but if you need immediate information, please call us at (800) 456-4949. Per the Governor’s Executive Order: “Effective immediately, the Executive Order permits Phase II businesses to reopen their physical workplaces to workers only to conduct necessary preparations prior to the start of Phase II. Preparations include but are not limited to completing a COVID-19 Control Plan, implementing sector-specific protocols, and complying with Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards.” We are staying abreast of the news and are in close communication with the local and state government agencies that oversee camp programs in Massachusetts. Clearly, it is difficult to predict, but we have not yet been given guidance to close our summer camps. Moreover, there are indications that camps such as ours — smaller (less than 50 campers) and local — are likely to be allowed to open before other types of camps, in large part because of the comparatively safer environments we can create. Each week the forecasts evolve, so in the meanwhile we are taking all necessary steps to offer summer camp on campus. We will notify parents if these plans change in time for parents to decide about the other options we are making available, including virtual camp and refunds. Check here for regular updates.
- +What options do parents have if summer camp cannot be run on-campus?
Because we offer local, coding and STEM summer camps, we are able to provide parents a range of options not available from most summer-camp providers.
First, we have reason to believe that we will be able to operate even if larger and overnight camps are still restricted from opening.
Second, even though nothing can replace being in-person at camp, we are fortunate to be able to be able to offer dynamic, fun and interactive programs virtually. Our proprietary online learning system, TalentBox, is already in use by thousands of students in the US and overseas, and we have gained highly positive feedback on our LIVE Virtual classes. For the summer, online campers will have the same instruction as on-campus, in the same small groups, and from the same team of awesome teachers. We have prepared fun activities to keep kids engaged and participating all day, both on and off the computer. If we are curtailed from offering camp in-person, all enrolled students will be automatically converted to the same program, on the same week, and at the same time, running online, and a portion of tuition refunded as a result of the lower price. Anyone not wishing to automatically convert to the online version will be offered a full refund. Even if camps are available on-campus, we anticipate that some parents will elect to continue to keep their children safe at home. So we will gladly transition students with on-campus reservations to the LIVE Virtual version.
Third, our highly flexible refund policy is still in effect. Up until two weeks before your camp runs, you can get a 100% refund. Inside the two week period, we will still be able to provide a full refund if we are able to fill your space with someone from our waiting list.
We are not aware of any other camp provider in Massachusetts that is offering this degree of choice and flexibility to parents.
- +If I enroll my child in your LIVE Virtual Camp can we transition to on-campus if in-person camps are allowed to run?
We recommend that parents who are on the fence about online vs on-campus camps, reserve their space at on-campus. We have greater ability to honor requests to transfer from on-campus to online than in the opposite direction. This is because we have a defined maximum number of campers we can enroll on-campus at each location each week, and our camps typically sell out: space may not always be available for a transfer to on-campus. On the other hand, we have no such physical restrictions with our online camps, and thus greater flexibility to fulfill transfer requests from on-campus to online.
- +What are the health and safety procedures we are using to keep students safe?
We have a comprehensive set of health and safety standards to safeguard the children under our care which have been significantly expanded in response to COVID-19. Many of these enhanced procedures were implemented this spring in the window between rising concerns about the coronavirus and the closing of our in-person programs. Additionally, moving forward, we will follow all Mandatory Safety Standards for Workplaces, issued on May 11 as part of the Four-Phase Approach to Reopening Massachusetts. Our current plan for this summer (and this spring if on-campus classes begin again) includes these heightened safety precautions:
- Exclude parents and guardians from camp. Exclude children and staff, if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19, have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, or are at high risk due to underlying health conditions.
- Take the temperature and check symptoms for staff and campers upon entry each day and ask if medications were used to lower the child’s temperature and if there are any household members with COVID-19
- Our class sizes are already small. We will do more to keep campers and their instructors in their group, and to minimize interactions between groups. For example, we will not combine groups at opening, closing, and during lunch and breaks. If two classes share a large classroom, we will divide the room, creating a clear barrier to ensure a minimum of 6 feet between groups.
- We will plan outdoor activities that do not require close physical contact between multiple children. Usage of play structures and jungle gyms will be prohibited.
- Staff, students and campers will always use hand sanitizer before entering the building and then immediately wash hands in the building. They will wash hands: before and after snack and meal times, after outdoor activities, after going to the bathroom, and before signing out. We will help out youngest campers to ensure they are doing it effectively.
- We will follow local and state guidance regarding the wearing of face masks, and treat any recommendations as requirements. Currently, face masks are recommended by the state and required by some towns and cities; for us that means they are required everywhere.
- Campers will sit at their own individual computers all week and not share devices. Workstations will be spaced out to a safe distance from their neighbors.
- All high touch surfaces, including keyboards, mice and work areas will be cleaned and disinfected at the end of each day.
- All camps are “nut-free” and allergen-free tables are made available based on the needs present at camp that week.
This list of procedures does not cover all of our safety standards but is provided to let you know that we being thorough in our efforts to keep your child safe. Additional details are available by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us at 800-456-4949. These procedures are likely to be updated as new information and guidance are provided by experts and governing agencies. It is difficult to know what procedures may be appropriate months from now, so we will update this information regularly.
- +Are prices for on-campus and virtual camps the same?
We are happy to provide our LIVE Virtual camps at an even more affordable price than our on-campus camps! For example, our full-day on-campus camps are generally $665-699/week, while the comparable online versions are typically $499. A few of the LIVE Virtual camps do require the purchase of software or robotics kits that cost $25-50 but the majority do not. Details on prices and additional costs are available by selecting the LIVE Virtual location on the register page and clicking on the program and week in which you’re interested.
- +What if I have additional questions?