Despite restrictions still in place on gatherings and public spaces, summertime day camps still will be able to operate this summer. Guidance released by the Oregon Health Authority May 15 indicates child summer camps will be permitted, with restrictions.
The state won't allow overnight outings, but will allow groups of up to 10 school-age children to attend day camps, so long as it's the same 10 kids each day.
For half-day camps, a morning group and afternoon group would be permitted, but it must be the same "stable group" of kids each session. Programs with additional groups must ensure physical distance among each cohort, to avoid intermingling, the OHA guidance states.
OHA stressed that camp programs should try to maintain physical distancing and avoid large group activities or those involving close contact.
"Camps are an important enrichment activity for school-age children (K-12) and are also important as a source of child care for many working parents," according to a May 15 OHA memo.
In addition to capping enrollment at 10 per group , camps must screen each participant for symptoms of illness, practice frequent hand washing or sanitizing, and maintain a log of everyone who attends. A communicable disease management plan also must be developed.
Staff or camp counselors are advised to wear masks and avoid interacting with more than one "stable" group if possible. Campers are encouraged to bring their own food and avoid sharing, but the guidelines also allow for buffet, but not family-style dining, if necessary.
While some organizations, like Friends of Tryon Creek have opted to cancel the bulk of their planned summer camps, others say they will improvise.
"We can have as many groups of 10 as possible, so long as we have plenty of square footage, which should be no problem this summer," Jordan Kent, who runs the Jordan Kent Just Kids Skill Camps, said in a video message posted last week. The camps teach children athletic skills and drills. Kent said each camper will get their own ball to use each day.
FOTC said the organization is still evaluating whether it can safely host its nature day camps in July and August.
The day camp rules came just over a week after the governor announced a three-phase reopening plan for Oregon. That plan laid out health resources and conditions that must be in place for businesses, facilities and activities to resume on a county-by-county basis. As of May 22, only the three Portland-area counties — Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington — are left to begin Phase 1 reopening.
In addition to limiting group sizes and interactions, OHA's guidelines also call for:
• No large group activities (larger than stable cohort)
• Increased distance between children during table work
• Activities that don't require close physical contact among multiple campers
• If possible, designated equipment (e.g., art supplies, musical instruments balls, mitts, etc.) solely for use by a single cohort and sanitization between practices or uses, with sanitization between uses by different groups if equipment must be re-used
• Keeping campers 6 feet from one another and minimized time standing in lines
• Restricting nonessential visitors and volunteers
• Increased distance when using brass or woodwind instruments as they may disperse respiratory droplets farther than 6 feet.
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