Without vaccines yet, should you send your child to summer camp? Here are new guidelines


MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The CDC released new guidelines for summer camps, and Tidelands Health physicians encourage parents to sign up their kids and follow recommendations to keep cases low.

“These children need to be able to go to summer camp. It’s an emotional, educational, growth experience. It’s a part of becoming an adult, these adolescents and younger children going to summer camp,” said Dr. Gerald Harmon with Tidelands Health Family Medicine.

While DHEC says a majority of new COVID-19 cases are among young people, most of that generation still isn’t eligible for the vaccine.

“The younger people are going to be the ones showing the disease right now because the older ones like myself, have been vaccinated,” Harmon said.

Those age 15 and under aren’t eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine so other safety guidelines like mask wearing and social distancing are required at summer camps.

For those old enough to get the vaccine, Harmon and DHEC recommend doing so.

“Now is the time for this age group to really step up and protect not only themselves because we’re all vulnerable, even if we don’t think we are,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, the DHEC director of public health.

A full list of the CDC’s updated guidelines for summer camps can be found below.

CDC’s Guidance for Operating Youth and Summer Camps during COVID-19

  1. This guidance is intended for all types of youth day camps with additional guidance provided for overnight camps. Organizations that provide summer day camps on school grounds should use the guidance. Summer learning programs on school grounds should follow CDC’s Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools.
  2. Consistent and layered use of multiple prevention strategies can help camps open safely for in-person activities; protect children, families, and staff; and slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
  3. This guidance describes physical distancing recommendations for day camps that align with current evidence for physical distancing in schools, including at least 3 feet physical distance between campers in the same cohort, except when eating and drinking (at least 6 feet); at least 6 feet physical distance between campers and staff; and at least 6 feet between campers in different cohorts. Additional guidance on physical distancing in overnight camps is also provided.
  4. This guidance outlines strategies that camp programs can use to maintain healthy environments and operations, lower the risk of COVID-19 spread in their programs, prepare for when someone is sick with COVID-19, and support coping and resilience.

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