The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidelines for youth summer camps during COVID-19 on Saturday that address physical distancing, added vaccination information, removed guidance on physical barriers, and updated considerations for screening testing and contact tracing.
The agency also stressed that the guidelines are meant to supplement, not replace, state and local regulations already in place.
The guidelines on physical distancing now align with those previously issued for schools. Campers are advised to be at least three feet apart from others in their cohort and six feet apart while eating and drinking. There should be "at least 6 feet physical distance between campers and staff, and at least 6 feet between campers in different cohorts."
Staffers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 should continue practicing physical distancing and wearing masks, as vaccines are not yet available to children, the agency stated.
"All people in camp facilities should wear masks at all times with exceptions for certain people, or for certain settings or activities, such as while eating and drinking or swimming," the guidelines state.
It also recommended that programs have an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) in place in the event a camper or staff member becomes ill, and that the EOP should first begin with "strongly encouraging vaccination for all eligible people." It also encourages that overnight staff, volunteers and campers who are eligible as well as family members get fully vaccinated at least two weeks before camp begins. Those who are not vaccinated or not yet eligible to be should be asked for proof of a negative viral test taken 1-3 days prior to camp start.
At this time, CDC advises that sports and athletic activities be played outdoors while wearing a mask, and that campers should avoid playing close contact or indoor sports. However, when campers are swimming or partaking in water activities, mask-wearing is not advised but 6-feet of distance is.
"If you choose to play close-contact or indoor sports, reduce your risk by getting vaccinated when a vaccine is available to you, wearing a mask, playing outside, staying at least 6 feet away from others, and avoiding crowds," the CDC states.
Daily health checks are also recommended to possibly spot an infection before an outbreak or cluster develops.