Editor’s note: AAP guidance has been updated since this story was published. For the latest guidance, visit https://bit.ly/3dVJAnf. AAP interim guidance is based on current evidence and best data at the time of publication. Updates are provided to reflect changes in knowledge about the impact of the disease on children and adolescents. For the latest news on COVID-19, visit http://bit.ly/AAPNewsCOVID19.
The AAP is providing updated guidance to help children reap the benefits of summer camps while lowering their risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2.
“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, including physical distancing, density reduction, face masks, hand hygiene, and enhanced hygiene measures and enhanced cleaning and disinfection of surfaces,” the AAP says in the guidance.
Pediatricians can advise families on whether it is safe for a child to attend camp based on his or her medical history and should make sure the child is up to date on vaccines.
Testing guidance from the AAP and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can help determine if a child needs a COVID-19 test before attending camp. However, the AAP stresses that a child who is negative at the start of camp may not remain so. In addition, blood testing for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 should not be used to decide whether a child can take part.
Wearing face masks, maintaining physical distance and performing proper hand hygiene are important even if campers are tested.
Guidance from the CDC and the American Camp Association can help camps create a safe environment. Local health officials also can assist in determining what to do if a camper or staff member becomes ill. Those plans should include quarantining the infected person and evaluating close contacts.
Given the toll the pandemic has taken on many children, camp directors should be prepared to address children’s physical and emotional needs and hire health care providers who have specialized training in children’s health. Camps should work with families to implement accommodations for youths with special health care needs and should promote diversity and inclusion.
In addition to the general camp guidance, sports camps should take into account state and local guidelines on competitive athletics as well as AAP guidance on returning to sports safely.