Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith announced the new directive regarding overnight summer residential camps for children. Training for counselors may begin May 24 and campers can start arriving May 31.
It is strongly encouraged that staff and campers self-quarantine at home for 14 days prior to arriving at camp. Furthermore, they should consider getting a COVID-19 test within four days prior to arriving at camp. Camps may decide to make these requirements. If they require both, they will be exempt from the requirement to wear face masks.
Although children between the ages of two and nine are encouraged to wear a mask, they will not be required to wear a mask. However, staff and campers over the age of 10 will be required to minimize transmission if they are not required to self-quarantine or take a test prior to arrival.
Campers and staff will receive a pre-screening questionnaire to be reviewed upon arrival. Informational signs should also be posted to advise people and social distancing of six feet should be maintained as much as possible.
The directive also suggests that children should be separated into groups of 10 of fewer and remain with the same members and staff to limit mixing. Shower times should also be staggered. Camps might also consider staggering meal times or serving meals in separate rooms with single-service items. Increased cleaning of highly touched areas and hand washing before and after every meal will be required.
Smith described the directive for overnight summer camps as one of the “longest” and “most complex” directives.
“We want to make these activities as safe for children as possible and that’s the reason for the detailed requirements in the directive so that children can be involved in these without putting them at undue risk,” Smith said.
Dr. Jose Romero is the section chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Arkansas Children’s Hospital who joined Hutchinson and Smith at the daily COVID-19 press conference.
The CDC recently notified physicians across the country about the multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) that was originally recognized in Europe. So far, there are only approximately 200 cases reported in the world and treatment is available. MIS-C mimics the Kawasaki disease closely causing fever and severe inflammation of organs.
Romero noted that parents should contact their physicians or care providers for more information or guidance if their children have symptoms.