RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The school year is almost over and many kids will find themselves on their way to camp this summer after the pandemic caused many camps to remain closed last year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance for how to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at summer camps on Friday.
With the vaccine rollout expanded to kids 12 and older there is a possibility for some camps to return to normal full capacity activities. According to the CDC, camps where everyone is fully vaccinated will not need to require masks, social distancing or capacity restrictions.
Camps are advised to encourage families, campers and staff to get vaccinated.
In instances where the entirety of the campers and staff are not vaccinated there are still a number of recommended COVID-19 mitigation strategies. Day and overnight camps where some members are not vaccinated are asked to require masks, social distancing and cohorts.
CDC guidance says camps should screen for disease including offering or requiring COVID-19 testing. For overnight camps they encourage testing throughout campers stay there.
It is recommended that camps stick to safer activities such as outdoor activities and physically distanced ones.
The CDC suggests that camps use cohorts to limit exposure to large groups of people.
Day camp cohorts would stay with each other and the same staff members throughout the day to limit exposure to others. Even in cohorts, anyone who is not fully vaccinated should wear a mask.
The CDC gives the following distancing guidelines for summer camps:
- At least 3 feet between all campers within a cohort
- At least 6 feet between all campers outside of their cohort
- At least 6 feet while eating and drinking without a mask indoors, including among people within the same cohort
- At least 6 feet between campers and staff
- At least 6 feet between staff
Overnight camps would have permanent cohorts for the whole session. These cohorts would classify as “household cohorts” in instances where campers and staff are living together. They will not need to wear masks when doing activities with their household cohort members. They do need to wear masks and practice physical distancing when interacting with campers and staff outside of their cohort.
In general, the CDC recommends mask use for anyone not vaccinated but their summer camp guidance provides reminders that people should not wear a mask during water activities. The CDC also says people should not wear masks while sleeping.
For families traveling to reach overnight camps, the CDC recommends they follow traveler guidance before getting to camp.
Instances where a COVID-19 case does occur, camps are asked to isolate the positive case and begin contact tracing including quarantining when necessary. Each organization will be responsible for contacting families and staff to make them aware of the positive case and the next steps.
People who are fully vaccinated do not need to test or quarantine following exposure unless they begin showing symptoms.
Anyone who is not fully vaccinated has to meet the following criteria to break quarantine:
- 10 days since symptoms first appeared or a positive test, and
- 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, and
- Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving.
The CDC continues to recommend good hygiene practices, frequent cleaning and effective ventilation in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.