COVID-19: Are summer camps safe for kids?

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(Baptist Health) – Summer camps have much to offer kids, from making friends to learning about the outdoors. And many camps are open during the pandemic. But as a parent you may wonder: Is it safe to send my child to camp?

Going to summer camp can raise the risk of getting COVID-19. Outbreaks have occurred in group settings like kids’ camps. But studies show that steps can be taken to prevent and control infections in summer camps that will help keep campers, and the communities near camps, safe. And while that might mean some camp activities may be different because of these precautions, they can still be fun.

Vaccines could make a difference

COVID-19 vaccines are available for all adults, and soon kids 12 and up could be eligible for a vaccine too. If your child can get a shot before summer camp starts, experts say you should consider getting them vaccinated. Doing so could help make camping safer.

Camps can help protect kids

If you decide to send your child to summer camp, you may want to look for one that follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for safer summer camps.

Here are some of the precautions CDC suggests camps adopt:

Cohorting. That’s when a group of campers and staff stay together throughout the day. They do not mix with others.

Masks. Everyone should be properly masked up at camp.

Physical distancing. Kids should stay:

  • At least 3 feet from campers in the same cohort.
  • At least 6 feet from campers outside their cohort.
  • At least 6 feet apart while eating and drinking.
  • At least 6 feet from staff.

Checking for symptoms. Staff should check campers daily for symptoms of COVID-19. People who have symptoms should be tested.

Testing. Some camps may require staff who work with campers to be routinely tested for the coronavirus.

Modified camp activities. Whenever possible, camp activities should be held outdoors—with masks, social distancing and smaller groups.

Ventilation. If activities are held indoors, doors and windows should be open to let fresh air in.

Contact tracing. This should be used to inform families if kids are exposed to the virus.

Isolation areas. If someone does get sick at camp, there should be an area where kids can safely isolate from others, as well as transportation arrangements to home or a healthcare facility, if needed.

More rules for overnight camps

Overnight camps may take even more precautions. For instance:

  • Parents may be asked to have kids fully vaccinated before traveling to camp. That’s at least two weeks after their last shot.
  • Unvaccinated campers may be asked to quarantine with their family for 14 days before they come to camp.
  • Camps may require proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Kids may be tested again after they get to camp.

Get to camp safely

One more tip: Be sure to follow CDC’s advice when you travel to camp. Masking up and taking other precautions will help you avoid the virus on your trip.

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