WINCHESTER — How to safely reopen Frederick County parks amid the coronavirus pandemic was discussed Tuesday by the Frederick County Parks and Recreation Commission.

Parks and Recreation Department officials told commission members they will follow state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines when Phase II of Virginia’s reopening begins.

Tammie Smith, a Virginia Department of Health spokeswoman, said in an email on Wednesday that Gov. Ralph Northam will make the decision on the Phase II reopening date in consultation with Dr. M. Norman Oliver, state health commissioner.

When Phase II begins, no more than 50 people will be allowed to participate in park activities. That includes activity at baseball and softball fields, playgrounds, pools, shelters, soccer fields and volleyball courts. Park rangers will enforce the limits, according to Cory Smith, superintendent of parks. The fields will be strictly for practices with games not resuming until Phase III.

Swimming at the pool during Phase II will occur in two-hour blocks, allowing for cleaning between sessions. Stacy Herbaugh, superintendent of operations, said social distancing in the pool isn’t necessary because chlorine in the pool is believed to kill COVID-19.

However, social distancing will be enforced around the pools. And swim instructors won’t be in physical contact with children learning to swim. Parents or guardians will be relied on to protect children in the pool. Paying for pool time will be done online to avoid cash exchanging hands.

The reopening will also include a “modified” youth summer camp, according to Chris Konyar, superintendent of recreation. Instead of the eight locations originally planned, Camp basicREC will be at the Evendale, Gainesboro and Greenwood Mill community centers located in the schools and limited to 30 to 40 children at each school.

Staff will be stationed at the entrance locations from 6:30 to 9 a.m. as children arrive and from 4 to 6 p.m. when they leave. Each child’s temperature will be taken when they arrive and at lunch time. Their temperature must be 100.3 degrees or less for them to participate. Cleaning and disinfecting will frequently occur, and children will be at least 6 feet apart when eating lunch and snacks. Konyar said children will be required to wear masks when doing indoor activities.

Charles Sandy Jr., commission chairman, stressed that the committee and department will be flexible in the reopening. He said dealing with the pandemic has been a learning curve for commission members and staff. The Parks and Recreation Department, which has a $5.7 million annual budget, has 39 full-time workers and up to 150 part-time employees overseeing the county’s five parks.

“Everything we’re going through is something new for us,” Sandy said. “Whatever we say tonight may change half a dozen times. It’s not like everything else hasn’t changed half a dozen times in the last two-and-a-half months.”

Commission members attending the meeting at the County Administration Building at 107 N. Kent St. were Sandy, Randy Carter (by phone), Natalie Gerometta, Gary Longerbeam, Ron Madagan, Guss Morrison, and Amy Strosnider as well as Board of Supervisors liaison Robert Wells. Dennis Grubbs was absent.

— Contact Evan Goodenow at

(1) comment


Social distancing is necessary to ensure health and safety while in the pool.

It's harder to control social distancing once you get in normal situations.

Research suggest viral droplets can travel farther than 6 feet and can persist in the air in aerosol form cloud.

NIH Report:

Cough: up to 19 feet

Sneeze: up to 26 feet

Talking: up to 6-7 feet

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that coronavirus can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas or water play areas.

Although the virus does not travel or live in the water, you can still get the virus from an affected person just as you would outside of the water,” Dr Rajiv Bahl said.

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