For the past two months, staff at the Elmhurst Park District has been planning for the expansion of programming in spring and summer. The District’s virtual brochure went live on February 19 and resident registration for programs took place this past Saturday. In what was reminiscent of pre-COVID days, within minutes of the 8:00 a.m. registration, many classes were full with wait lists.
“While we’re excited to see that so many people are excited and ready to return to programs, we also have to remind residents that mandated restrictions remain the same,” said Executive Director Jim Rogers, “the District still has to follow the guidelines set forth by the Restore Illinois Plan to ensure the safety of participants and staff, which continues to be our number one priority.”
Region 8 (including DuPage and Cook counties) entered Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan at the beginning of February, and those guidelines still require reduced capacities, social distancing requirements, and enhanced cleaning protocols which limit both the number of participants who can participate and number of programs that can be held.
The guidelines the District has to follow mirror those in similar areas such as tourism and leisure. For example, movie theaters and restaurants that have reopened can only accommodate up to 25% of their typical capacity. Similar to when a movie theater is at capacity and can’t take any additional reservations, District programs have required capacity limits that result in wait lists.
However, staff will now begin reviewing all wait lists in an effort to determine if and how more people might be able to be accommodated in certain spring session programs. This may include adding sessions in certain program areas and, if possible, those on wait lists will be contacted. But staff is also hopeful that restrictions might be loosened in the coming weeks and months and more programming will be able to be offered in the summer months as a vaccine becomes more readily available.
“We can’t stress enough that patience is going to be key as we transition to a new place in spring and summer," said Rogers, “Expansion of the District’s offerings will be a slow and gradual process based upon lessening of mandated restrictions.”