Well friends, summer is finally here! And as more and more states move toward reopening, parents everywhere are seeking relief from the months of being cooped up together, by way of summer camp.
But with coronavirus cases rising by the day, and a very real, and very contagious pandemic still at large, is it safe to send your kids to summer camp in the age of COVID-19?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers suggestions of things to be mindful of should you choose to send your child to camp this summer.
1. Social Distancing
Camps should take extra precautions this summer to keep kids the recommended six feet apart at all times. Many camps will follow the lead of other public businesses with plexiglass barriers, and personal spaces identified with tape to ensure campers and staffers alike have clear guidelines for practicing social distancing.
Team sports and games like tag, which require physical contact, will likely be replaced with different activities this summer, as kids are encouraged to avoid contact with other campers. Outdoor activities should be prioritized, as social distancing can be maintained better. If campers are indoors, it’s important that adequate spacing is set designated for each individual child.
In addition to social distancing measures, most camps will limit both group sizes and group mixing to reduce the risk of spreading.
2. Hand Sanitizer
This handy little germ-killer is crucial for kiddos headed to summer camp this year. In addition to frequent hand-washing for at least 20 seconds with warm water, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol can be used when sinks aren’t as convenient.
Staff and campers are encouraged to sanitize upon camp entry, following use of the bathroom, before and after meals, and any time they come into contact with another person.
As controversial as they have been, masks are still believed to help slow the spread of viruses, and prevent the spread of germs and bacteria. Depending on your state and local guidelines, masks may or may not be required for campers.
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on:
- Babies or children younger than 2 years old
- Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious
- Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without help
Data shows that children are less likely to contract the coronavirus, but precautionary measures should still be followed. Many camps are requiring staff members to wear masks while indoors, or when social distancing is difficult.
4. Drop-off and Pick-Up
Camp procedures will look different this year when it comes to dropping off and picking up your campers. Many summer camps are not allowing parents inside the facility in order to minimize traffic going in and coming out. Carpool lines should be expected.
If your child’s summer camp does not have a drive-up plan in place, be sure to ask about expectations regarding masks upon entering the facility.
5. Daily Health Checks
Many summer camps will require parents to answer a series of questions about possible COVID-19 symptoms and exposure on a daily basis. You can expect staff to check your child’s temperature, and keep a close eye on any new or developing coronavirus concerns.
As with anything, the CDC says employees and campers who are sick or have recently had a close contact with a person with COVID-19 should stay home.
6. Pack Personal Supplies
Now is not the time for sharing. If you’re sending a kiddo to camp this summer, be sure to pack their own personal items like hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, sunscreen, water bottles, and even their own lunch.
The CDC recommends keeping each camper’s belongings separated from others’ and in individually labeled containers, cubbies, or areas. Kids should avoid sharing items that are difficult to clean, as well as electronic devices, toys, books, and other games or learning aids.
Bottom line—make sure your child has everything they need to avoid sharing with others this summer.
7. Ask about cleaning and disinfecting procedures
The CDC says frequently touched surfaces (e.g., playground equipment, door handles, sink handles, drinking fountains) within the camp facility should be sanitized at least daily, or as much as possible in between use. All cleaners and disinfectants should be safely stored securely away from campers. In addition to cleaning regimens, staff should ensure ventilation systems are properly circulating outdoor air as much as possible.
Other things to keep in mind when sending your child to summer camp:
8. Ask about a designated COVID-19 point of contact person
This should be someone who manages all coronavirus concerns—both within the camp, and in compliance with state and local guidelines. All camp staff and families should know who this person is and how to contact them.
9. Be prepared for camp to go virtual
Although states are reopening, and many of us are in the mindset of just being “over it,” there is a very real, and lethal threat still at large. If you’re one of the many parents still apprehensive about group gatherings and safety procedures, several summer camps are offering online and virtual options to accommodate families while school is out.
With that, state and local guidelines on COVID-19 procedures are always changing. The likelihood of us returning to nationwide stay-at-home is low, but be prepared for things to change quickly, as officials advise best practices.