With school out and summer here, camp is the first big experiment of getting children back together in their normal social environments. It’s no surprise that we are getting a lot of questions from concerned parents over this difficult and even scary decision. Parents are wondering what are the risks of sending kids to camp and then are balancing that with the need for children to join typical, healthy social environments.
We spent time doing research on CDC guidelines, recent research and what we know about the spread of COVID-19.
Every family has their own level of tolerance for risk and family situation, so we have no doubt families will come to different conclusions as we navigate this new phase of what it now looks like to “get back to normal.” And regionally and nationally, families live in different areas in all different phases of COVID-19 outbreaks. This means that for overnight camps, the county where your children’s camp is located may not yet even been cleared to open yet.
Based on what we know, we feel that you can be comfortable sending your children to camp. This goes for day camp and overnight camp (🎉 cue the confetti from the kids and camp directors!).
Here’s why you may feel comfortable sending your child to camps that follow CDC Guidelines
As you know with COVID-19, information can change really frequently, even daily and this is the best guidance that we have as of today, June 9.
Here’s what we know about COVID-19 and children:
Of the almost 2 million cases of COVID-19 identified here in the United States, only 4% of these are in children.
- Most of the infections in children are either a very mild illness or even children may be asymptomatic and not showing any symptoms at all.
- The vast majority of children with COVID-19 recover uneventfully and do not require hospitalization.
- Another really interesting thing about COVID-19 is that it is unlike seasonal influenza where we know children are in a sense super spreaders. They get influenza easily, and they spread it rapidly to their household contacts. That is not the case with COVID-19. Recent data suggests that children are rarely the first case in a household, and they have not been associated with outbreaks. So that’s really, really reassuring news as well.
While many camps have already made the decision to close this summer, those camps that will be open should be following a tool put out by the CDC that has specific guidance.
Briefly, here’s what these camp guidelines include:
- Screening both campers and all staff members for signs of illness or contact with a case of COVID-19. Any history of exposure is important.
- The camp should also have a safety plan in place for children who are sick.
- Enhanced cleaning procedures
- Using a mask when appropriate
- Keeping campers together in small groups with a dedicated staff member
- For day camp the CDC recommends parents stagger drop-off and pick up times.
- There should also be ongoing monitoring that should include daily screening and temperature checks.
Children at sleep-away camp, who are ill, should also be separated and sent home, as well as any staff or other campers who may have had close contact with them. So this means if your child is at a sleep-away camp that is some distance away, as a parent, you may need to be prepared to pick up your child from camp sooner than anticipated.
These guidelines are available on cdc.gov, and I highly encourage you to take a look at them. As a parent making the decision to send your child to camp, be sure to ask if they’re following these guidelines. If the answer is yes, then you may feel comfortable sending your child.
Communication is really going to be the key between you and the camp director, the staff and also between you and your pediatrician if you need us.
If you have any specific questions about your child, please call and set up a telemedicine visit with us.