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CDC Revises Summer Camp Guidance, Easing Restrictions

The CDC has softened its guidance for how to operate summer camps for kids this year. Kids 12 and older can get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Image credit: Eva Marie Uzcategui

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised earlier guidelines regarding mask use and vaccinations at summer camps. The agency now says that at camps where everyone has been fully vaccinated, masks are not necessary, nor is physical distancing – except where required by local law.

Some 2.5 million adolescents ages 12 to 15 have been vaccinated since the Pfizer vaccine was approved for this group earlier in May, according to CDC data.

At camps where not everyone is vaccinated, the guidance says, vaccinated people do not need masks. But unvaccinated people are “strongly encouraged” to wear masks indoors, though it is not mandatory. The CDC advises unvaccinated children and adults to wear masks outdoors in crowds.

But given how complicated it could be to run a mixed camp of vaccinated and unvaccinated campers and adults, some camps may choose to simply go with a policy that requires masks for everyone.

The CDC is also recommending that masking and distancing continue for all people with weakened immune systems.

The CDC’s earlier guidance for camps was criticized as too restrictive, leading members of Congress to call on the CDC to soften the policy.

Here are highlights of the new guidance, from the CDC’s website:

  • Camps should strongly encourage all campers and staff to get vaccinated before the camp session.
  • If everyone at camp is vaccinated, it’s ok to operate at full capacity with no masks and no social distancing.
  • For camps with some unvaccinated adults or kids, masking indoors is recommended.
  • Camps should be supportive of kids or staff or choose to wear masks.
  • Camps should organize campers into cohorts to remain together for the duration for the camp session, mixing as little as possible with other campers.
  • If a camp does experience an outbreak of COVID-19, people who test positive should isolate and contacts should be quarantined.
  • Local rules and regulations may supersede this guidance so camps should comply with what’s required locally.
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