Guidelines announced for NC overnight summer camps to help prevent COVID-19

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina health officials Friday announced guidelines for how overnight summer camps for children should operate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overnight camps will be allowed to open when North Carolina eventually moves into Phase 2 of the reopening plan. The state is currently in Phase 1 until at least May 22.

The guidelines were announced Friday and include maintaining social distancing among campers themselves and staffers.

If social distancing is not possible, the camps should “strongly encourage” the use of face coverings by campers and staff.

Campers and staff should not use water fountains and instead should use cups or water bottles, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Among the other guidelines are limiting campers at the facility from North Carolina and neighboring states.

Counselors and staff — if coming from outside those areas — should arrive 14 days in advance for quarantine in the camp before any campers arrive.

During the camp, daily screening for symptoms should be done for campers and staffers.

For campers themselves, bunks in cabins should be arranged so that the distance between children’s heads would at least be 6 feet apart.  Also, campers should stay in groups by cabin — and limit mixing with other campers from other cabins.

Shared sports equipment at the camps should all be disinfected by each camper after use. Examples include raquets, archery equipment, kayaks, paddles and life jackets.

It’s unclear if there will be any enforcement of the guidelines when camps are eventually allowed to open.

Here is the full list of guidelines for overnight camps from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services:

Prevention Efforts:
 Limit participation to campers from North Carolina and neighboring states.
 If possible, have counselors and staff – particularly those coming from outside of North Carolina
or neighboring states come early and quarantine in camp for 14 days before campers arrive.
 Implement staggered drop-off and pick-up times, with specific times for each group of campers,
if practicable.
 Use methods that do not require contact to check campers in and out of camp.
 Require parents dropping-off and picking-up campers to remain in their vehicles or outside of
 Promote frequent use of handwashing and hand sanitizer for campers and staff. Require
handwashing prior to eating meals and snacks, and before and after any activities.
 Stagger bathroom breaks during activities so single cabin cohorts are using restroom during the
same break period.
 Provide training for campers and staff about hand hygiene, physical distancing, and
cough/sneeze etiquette.
 Prohibit outside visitors to camp activities and facilities.
 Provide a transparent weekly email of concerns/cases to parents, campers and staff. Respect
the privacy of all campers and staff while offering transparency and a reason to be vigilant.
Combatting Misinformation:
 Provide campers, their families, and staff with education about COVID-19 strategies, using
methods like videos, webinars, or FAQs prior to the beginning of the camp session. Some
reliable sources include NC DHHS COVID-19, Know Your Ws: Wear, Wait, Wash, NC DHHS
COVID-19 Latest Updates, NC DHHS COVID-19 Materials & Resources
 Promote informational helplines like 211 and Hope4NC (1-855-587-3463) and other Wellness
Resources to campers, their families, and staff.
 Provide access to mental/behavioral health support for both campers and staff. See Managing
Overall Health and Behavioral Health Guidance for more information.
 Clearly communicate criteria for when campers will be excluded from camp activities.

Monitoring Campers and Staff for Symptoms:
 Conduct symptom and temperature screening for campers and staff upon arrival to the camp,
before joining their cabin group.
 Conduct daily symptom screening (standard interview questionnaire, English|Spanish) of
campers and staff, and send any campers with symptoms immediately to isolation area to be
assessed by onsite medical professionals.
 Encourage sick staff to stay home and isolate and practice social distancing whenever possible.
 Support staff who stay home due to sickness with liberal use of sick leave policy.
 Require daily temperature screening of staff before they interact with campers.
 If someone feels sick, have a plan to isolate them. Have a designated area ready (in health
services area of camp) for isolation with designated staff. The staff/camper should remain in
the designated area until they can be taken home. Afterwards the area must be properly
disinfected in accordance with CDC’s Cleaning and Disinfection for Community Facilities.
 If a camper or staff member has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is presumed positive by a
medical professional due to symptoms, the camper or staff member should be excluded from
camp until they meet the CDC criteria for release from isolation:
 No fever for at least 72 hours since recovery (without the use of fever-reducing
medicine AND
 Other symptoms have improved (e.g., coughing, shortness of breath) AND
 At least 10 days have passed since first symptoms

Protecting Vulnerable Populations:
 Enable staff to self-identify as high risk for severe disease and reassign work to minimize their
contact with customers and other staff.
 Provide accommodations for high risk (minimize interaction with campers, more spacing, wear
face covering).
 Advise staff who are at lower risk for COVID-19 that they may want to consider wearing a cloth
face covering if they cannot maintain physical distancing (less than 6 feet from) other people in
the work setting. FAQ about face coverings is available in English and Spanish.
o Provide guidance on use, wearing, and removal of cloth face coverings, such as CDC’s
guidance on wearing and removing cloth face masks, CDC’s use of cloth face coverings,
and CDC’s cloth face coverings FAQ’s.
Recommendations for Cabins/Sleeping Areas:
 Arrange cabins so that physical distancing can be achieved to the extent possible, with 6 feet
between camper’s heads while in bunk.
 Overnight adventure camps, primitive experience camps, or other camps with overnight tent
camping should provide adequate alternatives for handwashing for the duration of the
 Require handwashing before preparing or eating meals, before and after activities, and other
times when hands may be contaminated.

Recommendations for Daily Activities:
 Keep campers and staff in groups by cabin and minimize interactions of groups from different
cabins. Campers should minimize interactions with other cabin groups.
 Reduce the size of groups for all activities and increase transportation frequency or routes to
accommodate reduced group sizes.
 Permit only activities that allow social distancing. Do not hold large group activities, full camp
assemblies, and team sports or relays where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
 Stop the practice of drinking directly from water fountains and provide cups or water bottles for
use by campers and staff.
 Assign individual equipment for the duration of camp and label with camper’s name to minimize
sharing equipment.

Recommendations for Meal Service:
 Stagger meal service so that physical distancing between different cabin groups can be
 Meal service lines should have floor markings 6 feet apart. Counselors should oversee family
style meals and self-service to assist campers. Remove any contaminated food or utensils, and
utensils should be switched out to be cleaned and sanitized between cabin cohorts.
Recommendations for Cleaning Your Camp:
 Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) at the entrance to cabins,
cafeterias, and other high-volume areas when available.
 Perform ongoing and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas (e.g.,
doors, doorknobs, rails) with an EPA approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes
COVID-19), and increasing disinfection during peak times or high customer density times.
 All shared equipment such as sports equipment (e.g., balls, racquets, archery equipment,
helmets, kayaks or canoes, paddles, life jackets), art supplies, and camping gear must be
properly disinfected after use by each camper. Provide adequate contact time for disinfectant
as required by the manufacturer before shared equipment is used by another camper.
 Promote frequent use of hand washing and hand sanitizer for campers and staff. Require
handwashing prior to eating meals and snacks, and before and after any activities.
 Disinfect all areas of buses and other transportation between trips.

Additional Actions Camps Can Take:
 Post signage reminding campers and staff about social distancing (staying at least 6 feet away
from others). Know Your Ws sign templates are available in English and Spanish on NC DHHS
COVID-19 response site.
 Post signage requesting that campers or staff who are or recently have been symptomatic with
fever and/or cough not remain at camp. Know Your Ws/Stop if You Have Symptoms flyers
(English – Color, Black & White; Spanish – Color, Black & White
 Provide additional signage and messaging on physical distancing, hand hygiene, and symptoms
in common areas like cabins, restrooms, and dining halls.
 Clearly provide 6 feet floor markings in waiting areas and check-in points and modify
transportation to and from camp so that individuals can maintain social distance.
 Provide cloth face coverings to staff per CDC guidance and strongly encourage use of cloth face
coverings for campers and staff when social distancing is not possible, with education on how to
properly wear, remove, and wash face coverings. FAQ about face coverings is available in English
and Spanish.
 Provide guidance on use, wearing, and removal of cloth face masks, such as CDC’s
guidance on wearing and removing cloth face masks, CDC’s use of cloth face coverings,
and CDC’s cloth face coverings FAQ’s.
 Cloth face coverings should NOT be put on babies and children under the age of 2, anyone who
has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask
without assistance.

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