California Counties, CDC, and ACA Begin Issuing Guidance For Opening Of Summer Camps

Category: Special Bulletins
Date: May 29, 2020 06:56 PM

As we await guidance from the State on the opening of summer camps, several counties, the American Camp Association (ACA), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are beginning to issue their own guidance and provide resources to assist summer camp programs plan to operate during a summer camp season in which the risks of COVID-19 remain.

Certain counties in the state are permitting summer camps to open this summer with modifications and preventative measures in place, which vary county by county.  For example, on May 22, 2020, San Francisco County issued an amended Health Order  permitting “summer camps and summer learning programs open to children over the age of six that operate exclusively outside of the academic school year … to open to all children” beginning at 7:00 a.m. on June 15, 2020, under certain conditions, including:

  1. Group size is limited to 12 children (a “pod”) per room or space
  2. Sessions must last at least three weeks
  3. Children must remain in the same pod for at least three weeks, and preferably for the entire time throughout the summer
  4. Summer Camps may not begin to operate for any children prior to June 15, 2020, and until they have complied with all of the requirements set forth in the relevant industry-specific Health Order directives including the requirements to complete an online form with general information about the program and required certifications, to have the parent(s) or guardian(s) of any child attending the program sign an acknowledgement of health risks, and to prepare and implement a written health and safety plan to mitigate the risk of virus transmission to the greatest extent feasible

Whereas summer camp programs in Marin County are permitted to begin operating at 7:00 a.m. on June 1, 2020, but only to children of certain workers and only if the programs follow certain guidelines, including: 

  1. They must be carried out in stable groups of 12 or fewer children (“stable” means that the same 12 or fewer children are in the same group each day)
  2. Children shall not change from one group to another
  3. If more than one group of children is at one facility, each group shall be in a separate room and groups shall not mix with each other
  4. Providers or educators shall remain solely with one group of children

Further, Contra Costa County is permitting summer camps to operate as long as they follow specific guidelines for other types of childcare settings as well as the guidelines in the May 18, 2020 Public Health Order.  Children may attend a summer camp in Contra Costa County “if at least one of the parents is an owner, employee, volunteer, or contractor for an essential business, essential governmental function, outdoor business, retail store, manufacturing business, logistics and warehousing facility, or meets one of the Minimum Basic Operations to work” under the May 18, 2020 Public Health Order.  Contra Costa County “strongly suggests that camps consist of the same cohort of 12 children for the duration of at least four weeks.”

Schools and other entities that operate summer camp programs should check their local county public health department for orders and guidance on the operation of summer camps, including if and when camps may open and the requirements for operating a camp, during the summer of 2020.  We also recommend consulting with your insurance broker as part of the planning process.

The CDC has also issued guidance for the reopening of summer day camps, which is available here.  LCW issued a special bulletin on this guidance on May 27, 2020, which is available here.

Additionally, the ACA is providing guidance for summer camp programs to plan and prepare for the unique COVID-19 related issues they are facing this summer.  The ACA maintains a COVID-19 Resource Center for Camps page to provide camps with tools and resources to assist with decision-making and planning for camp operations.  The ACA has also provided a Field Guide for Camps on Implementation of CDC Guidance (Field Guide) that contains resources and guidance on reducing potential exposures to and the spread of COVID-19 in the camp environment.  The Field Guide is comprehensive and covers many topics, including the following:

  • Deciding whether to open and operate camp during the summer of 2020
  • Communicating with campers, parents, staff, vendors, and local health officials about COVID-19 related issues before camp, during camp, and in the case of a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19
  • Pre-screening campers before arrival, initial health screening upon arrival, and ongoing screening during camp
  • Responding to and managing confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19
  • Preventing the spread of COVID-19, including posting printed materials from the CDC, showing CDC instructional videos, teaching healthy hand hygiene, and implementing physical distancing practices
  • Managing camp buildings and facilities, including ventilation and plumbing best practices
  • Operating residential camps, including recommended policies and configurations for housing, bathrooms, sleeping, and ventilation
  • Operating aquatic facilities and recreational areas, including cleaning and disinfecting practices
  • Cleaning and disinfecting recommendations for all camp buildings and facilities
  • Reducing the risk of exposure to campers and staff while participating in indoor and outdoor camp activities
  • Using cohorts at camp, such as maintaining small group sizes, limiting mixing of groups, and restricting large gatherings while at camp
  • Transporting campers to and from camp
  • Traveling by bus, van, or other communal vehicle
  • Implementing a personal protective equipment (PPE) plan for camp staff

LCW is closely monitoring the release of statewide guidance for summer camp programs and will provide an update once the guidance is released.

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