The coronavirus pandemic has impacted yet another annual event – the entire summer season of Wauseon recreational activities for children has been scrapped.
During a meeting held Tuesday the Wauseon Recreation Association (WRA) determined that COVID-19 social distancing restrictions set forth by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine will prevent organization of the city’s summer programs.
Additionally, city Parks and Recreation Superintendent Matt Mennetti decided, after discussions with city and school officials, to follow the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s mandate that all activities be canceled through June.
In a statement, Mennetti said, “This was a decision based on discussions between myself as the recreation superintendent, the City of Wauseon, and WRA Board President Zach Riley. I did receive some clarification from a couple key school administrators. In accordance with the directives set forth last Thursday by the OSHAA that all school facilities were to remain closed through June 30, there was no way in any good conscience to put the youth of this community and their families on a field at Biddle Park this summer and risk their health and safety. That would be reckless and irresponsible. Therefore, the decision was made to cancel our summer programs.”
Public Service Director Keith Torbet, who oversees Parks and Recreation, said it doesn’t appear that the state’s restrictions will be lifted by the May 15 deadline the city set to make a decision.
“There doesn’t look like a sign of lifting the order of groups of 10,” he said. “And by the time we get into July we’re already preparing to start our fall activities. I think we need to have something for the kids to do. I feel for them immensely.”
The distancing restrictions have made it impossible to organize coaches and teams. “We wouldn’t have time to do a quality program for the kids,” Torbet said.
WRA President Zach Riley declined to comment.
While she understands the reasoning behind the decision, Wauseon Mayor Kathy Huner said she’s saddened the summer programs have been shut down, but added, “I’m sure that this decision was not an easy decision for the WRA to make for the children of Wauseon. It was made in the best interest for their safety and their health, and the city has to respect that decision.”
Huner said other communities have made the same decision to protect the safety and health of children.
“I feel very bad they will not be able to have these programs for the summer,” she said. “Hopefully, they can resume as normal as allowed in the fall. (But) I don’t think it will be the same. We will be learning how to move forward with safety measures.”