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Summer Camps and COVID: How to Keep Kids Safe

May 24, 2021

The first summer youth camps of the COVD-19 era in Connecticut will follow many of the adult-style safety protocols of the past year, as the state awaits updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Connecticut Office of Early Childhood has its own guidance for campers, last updated March 31.

Some highlights:

  • Masks for children 3 years old and up. (Children who do not wear a mask should not be excluded from an activity or isolated from peers.)
  • No masks required during outdoor activities or while eating, sleeping or resting.
  • Mask breaks scheduled throughout the day while observing social distancing.
  • Campers should be divided into groups that stay together each day and do not change.
  • Groups should be no bigger than 20 children.
  • Staggered times, when possible, for activities and dining.
  • Social distancing between children.
  • Frequent handwashing.

Children with a documented medical condition, require special healthcare or have a developmental need are not required to wear a mask. .

Camp staff must wear masks at all times.

The CDC’s latest update, a month ago, predates the agency’s recent guidance for the general population that no longer requires masks or social distancing in most settings for people fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“The CDC’s guidelines for camps are aimed at having as safe as an experience as possible,” says Dr. Virginia Bieluch, Chief of Infectious Diseases at The Hospital of Central Connecticut. “Children shouldn’t go to camp if they’re feeling sick. Hopefully, camps are checking symptoms daily and the availability of testing.

The CDC suggests caution at camps over the potential spread of COVID-19 variants that spread more readily and faster than other variants.

“If camps follow the guidelines you’re children are going to be pretty safe going to camp this summer,” says Dr. Bieluch. “But please get them vaccinated if they’re in the right age range.”