Editor's note: This guidance has expired.Guidance for camps in 2021 is available at https://bit.ly/3dVJAnf. For the latest news on COVID-19, visit https://www.aappublications.org/news/2020/01/28/coronavirus.
Camps can help children reconnect with friends this summer, but pediatricians, parents and camp directors should take steps to keep campers safe as SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread.
The AAP is offering guidance at https://bit.ly/AAPCampGuidance.
“Camps will need to balance providing an enriching developmentally appropriate camp experience while also seeking to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible,” according to the guidance.
Families should discuss with their pediatrician whether a camp is appropriate for their children and make sure children are up to date on vaccines before they attend.
Camp directors should provide accommodations and activities that meet the needs of children of all abilities and can work with pediatricians and families to design accommodations. Health care providers at camps should be trained in children’s health, and a counselor on site may be able to help children facing emotional stress from the pandemic.
Some camps may require virologic testing, especially for campers or staffers who have COVID-19 symptoms or have known exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. If a camp institutes a COVID-19 testing protocol, it is important to recognize that testing has limitations. It only shows a current infection and doesn’t preclude someone from testing positive later in the camp session. Tests also may be negative during the early incubation period. Decisions should not be made based on serologic testing for antibodies, which has additional limitations.
Campers and staff members should take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, including social distancing, proper hand hygiene and wearing cloth face coverings (over age 2 years) as feasible. While these can be challenging in a camp environment, directors should find ways to encourage these practices and make them part of the daily routine.
Directors also should have plans in place in case a camper or staffer becomes ill, including how they will remove that person from camp, evaluate the health of others and close camp if there is an outbreak. These plans should incorporate their state or local health department’s policies and requirements. The AAP also recommends following guidelines from the American Camp Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (see resources).