Summer Camps Should Require Physical Distancing and Vaccinations for Staff, CDC Says
The CDC says that all camp staff should be "strongly" encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible
With summer just around the corner, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shared updated guidance on how to keep children safe at summer camp by lowering the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Among the multiple prevention strategies mentioned in the guidelines, the CDC says that all camp staff should be "strongly" encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
However, noting that the vaccine has not yet been approved for children of all ages — the current lowest approved age is 16 — the guidance emphasizes that "even after camp employees are vaccinated, camps need to continue prevention measures for the foreseeable future, including requiring masks and physical distancing."
Among non-vaccinated staff members who routinely deal with multiple different groups of campers, the CDC recommends weekly COVID-19 screenings.
The CDC also says that all campers, staff members and visitors should be required to wear properly-fitting masks at all times with few exceptions, such as during meal time or while swimming.
While masks are not being worn, children should be instructed on how to safely store them by keeping the masks in a clean place, such as a backpack or pocket, and washing their hands after removing their mask. Additionally, extra clean masks should always be easily accessible by staff.
Physical distancing is another central part of the new guidelines.
Per the CDC, whenever possible, the same group of campers and staff should stay together throughout the entire day in order to minimize any potential exposure. These smaller groups or cohorts are still encouraged to continue wearing masks.
In order to maintain a safe distance, the CDC recommends that campers within a single cohort should remain at least 3 feet away from another, and 6 feet away from campers in different groups. While eating and drinking, all campers and staff are encouraged to remain 6 feet apart.
Campers and staff should also be required to wear masks on buses or other forms of transportation, which should implement additional physical distancing measures.
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Whenever possible, camp activities should be adjusted to take place outdoors, while ventilation should be increased in indoor spaces.
"Bringing fresh, outdoor air into your facility helps keep virus particles from concentrating inside. Open windows and doors when possible, use fans to increase the effectiveness of open windows, and decrease occupancy in areas where outdoor ventilation cannot be increased," the CDC advises. "Ventilation, including opening windows when possible, is also important on camp transport vehicles.
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Noting that the best prevention tactic is "to keep the virus from getting into your camp program in the first place," the CDC emphasizes the importance of asking parents and guardians to be on the lookout for any signs of illness.
Children who show signs of "any infectious illness" should stay home from camp. The same goes for camp staff, with the CDC recommending that policies be put in place that "encourage sick employees to stay at home without fear of negative consequences."
Additional information can be found on the CDC's website.
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