Texas pushes for kids to return to normal during pandemic

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Bruce McCall, 5, laughs as he eats his lunch behind plastic barriers during martial arts daycare summer camp at Legendary Blackbelt Academy in Richardson, Texas, Tuesday, May 19, 2020. As daycare and youth camps re-open in Texas, operators are following appropriate safety measure to insure kids stay safe from COVID-19. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

AUSTIN, Texas – After months of home schooling and lost sports seasons, millions of Texas children may get a taste of a somewhat normal summer after all — if their parents go for it.

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott this week said child care facilities can reopen immediately and set the stage for a return to summer camp, youth sports leagues and even summer school.

All come with guidelines on just how to do it amid the coronavirus pandemic, including sanitation practices and limits on how many children can be in one place. They also require parents to keep their distance from one another while celebrating a goal, home run or dunk.

It's all welcome news for Whitt Melton, co-owner of Legendary Black Belt Academy in the Dallas suburb of Richardson. The business has been open to offer child care for essential workers but will now expand and open its planned summer camp.

Melton said he hopes to boost enrollment from the current seven children to a maximum of 30 a day, which would allow him to maintain proper social distancing measures for kids and instructors. But he doesn't expect the ramp up to happen right away.

“I don’t think it's going to be overnight,” Melton said. “We have to build trust with the community, and people have to trust that the state is making the right decision.”

Count Kara Conway of the Dallas suburb of Lewisville among the cautious.

Before the pandemic, the 40-year-old mother of boys aged 4, 7 and 10 had planned keep the youngest in day care for the summer while a babysitter took the older boys to sports camps and other activities.