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CDC Issues Updated Summer Camp Guidelines

MONDAY, April 26, 2021 -- Children at summer camps must wear masks at all times, except when swimming, napping, eating, or drinking, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in updated guidance released Sunday for summer camp operators.

The agency said children should be seated at least six feet apart for meals, snacks, and water breaks; kept far apart when swimming; and positioned head to toe for naps. As many activities as possible should be conducted outdoors. When activities must be indoors, spaces should be well ventilated and windows should be kept open. Windows should also be open on camp buses and vans, the CDC said. Children should not share toys, books, or games; each camper should have a labeled cubby for their belongings; and each child should have a personal nap mat that is sanitized before and after use. Close contact, indoor sports, large gatherings, and assemblies should be avoided, and singing, chanting, or playing instruments should be done outdoors, the CDC advised.

Federal health officials also issued rules for overnight camps, saying eligible staff, volunteers, campers, and family members should be fully vaccinated two weeks before traveling to camps, while those who are not vaccinated should self-quarantine for two weeks before arriving at camp. Those who are not fully vaccinated should also provide proof of a negative test for the virus, taken one to three days before arriving at the camp.

Campers and staff members should be screened for COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival at camps, and screening tests should be conducted if there is substantial community transmission in the area. Daily symptom checks should also be carried out to monitor for possible illness, the advice said.

Anyone working at a camp who is 16 years or older is "strongly encouraged" to get vaccinated "as soon as the opportunity is available," the guidance added. But immunized individuals must still wear masks around children, who are not eligible for vaccination yet, and stay six feet away from them. Children should also stay six feet away from children in other groups.

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