The American Academy of Pediatrics released updated guidelines about summer camps amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, emphasizing that “safe camp participation” is possible — and can offer real benefits to children — if certain mitigation measures are followed. “In light of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, children have missed out on the many of the social, emotional, intellectual, and developmental benefits of school attendance this past year in many communities,” state the guidelines, which were updated on Wednesday.
“Additionally, they have lost out on family gatherings, traditional celebrations, and community recreation,” the AAP says. “During the summer, it is important that children begin to reestablish connections with their friends, peers, and non-parental adults in an environment that supports their development while also consistently practicing the recommended principles to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2.”
Above all, camp directors must stick to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for maintaining healthy environments, which emphasizes the importance of social distancing. For example: Having small groups of campers who stay together all day, every day, who remain at least six feet apart, who do not share objects, and who generally stick to outdoor activities is the least risky way to structure camp, the CDC says. Having groups of campers mixing and not maintaining any level of social distance poses the highest risk.
Although the CDC and AAP both now say that it is sufficient for students to sit 3 feet (as opposed to 6 feet) apart in classroom settings, the AAP’s new camp-specific guidelines do not offer hard-and-fast rules around ideal spacing.
But the AAP does emphasize that mask-wearing is essential, making a point to bold the following statement in its new guidelines: “It is important to note that the vast majority of children, even those with medical conditions to safely and effectively wear face masks with good practice and support as well as modeling from adults.