With COVID vaccinations on the rise, some aspects of life are slowly starting to inch back towards normalcy after over a year of restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19. Summer camps were among the many casualties of summer 2020, but will they be safe for your kids this year? At the moment, summer camp may be a possibility in the coming months, but the CDC recommends strict safety protocols be in place first.
The CDC's latest guidance essentially recommends that summer camps can open, relatively safely, if proper safety precautions are in place. "Consistent use of the multiple prevention strategies . . . can limit the spread of COVID-19 in many settings, including camps and can help camps open safely for in-person activities," the CDC's guidance says. The CDC recommends using several prevention strategies for both camp staff and camp attendees, including:
Getting vaccinated when eligible
Staying home if sick or having symptoms of COVID-19
Universal and correct use of well-fitted masks that cover the nose and mouth
Physical distancing, including cohorting
Handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes
Engaging in outdoor activities whenever possible and increasing ventilation for indoor activities
Cleaning and disinfecting when needed to maintain healthy facilities
Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the state, local, territorial, and tribal health departments
Limiting shared objects
Staggered use of shared spaces
The CDC also strongly suggests that every camp, prior to opening, have a robust plan in place for preparations, safe operation, and steps to take in the event of a COVID-19 case. These preparations should include plans for screening, protocols to keep high-risk staffers and campers safe, multiple prevention strategies, proper use of protective equipment, modifying camp activities to adhere to guidelines, travel planning, and flexibility and emergency procedures in all these areas in case of an outbreak. Since most children aren't eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine yet, these strategies (along with vaccination and prevention strategies among the adult staffers) are crucial to keeping everyone safe.
Before making any decisions on whether or not to send kids to summer camp this year, every individual family should gather as much information as possible about their camp's policies and plans. It's absolutely possible for kids to have a safe and enjoyable camp experience this year, but each family will need to decide for themselves what's right for them, based on information about specific camps.