JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —
Parents may soon be making decisions about which summer camps to send their children to and depending on whether they are mostly inside or outside could determine if masks are required.
For the most part, if the camp is outside, masks can be taken off. However, if children are inside and in close contact with others, the CDC recommends masks stay on.
For Ulysses Owens, Jr., he has decided to keep the masks for his music students. He started Don't Miss A Beat, Inc with his family in 2008 after graduating from Julliard in 2006.
"I auditioned for their inaugural jazz program, and I was very fortunate to be the first African American jazz drummer to ever enter the program," Owens told First Coast News.
To his estimate, he's introduced music into the lives of 20,000 First Coast kids.
"For us to provide a resource for them; for one to feel mentored. Feel guided, but also feel supported," Owens explained of his overall mission.
One of his flagship programs is summer camp, but last year, the pandemic forced him to make some changes. He moved the end of summer showcase outside, requiring masks each day and face shields for the performances. It's something he plans to do again this year.
"All it takes is that one person who did not vaccinate, or they have COVID," Owens said. "And we relax for one moment, and we create another super-spreader event."
He said his decision is not a political statement, but an effort to keep the staff and children protected by giving them a space to show off their talents, safely.
"We will put the needs of the community first and make sure they are safe," Owens explained. "That is why we have to be there. That is why we exist."