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Summer camps play an important role in keeping kids active and healthy, but they can also pose an increased risk for the spread of COVID-19 if proper mitigation strategies are not taken.
Although most children who contract COVID-19 have mild symptoms or have no symptoms at all, some can get severely ill and children can spread the virus to others who may be more vulnerable.
There are several measures parents, youth, and camp staff should consider to limit COVID-19 infections this summer:
Vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to greatly reduce the risk of COVID-19. Currently, vaccine is approved for individuals 12 and older. People who are not fully vaccinated, including children who are not yet eligible for vaccine, are more at risk for illness and hospitalization and need to take extra precautions when around others including masking, washing their hands, and watching their distance.
Camp leaders are encouraged to provide information to staff and parents on the importance of vaccine and establish supportive policies and practices that make it as easy and convenient as possible for staff and others to receive vaccine.
Since camp counselors may spend time with many individuals for different cycles of camp, it is especially important for staff to get vaccinated to prevent potential outbreaks and limit the risk of children spreading the virus to their potentially vulnerable relatives.
A list of vaccine opportunities is available at vaccine417.com. Camps interested in hosting a one-time or recurring COVID-19 vaccination clinic should contact the regional COVID-19 call center at (417) 874-1211 or email [email protected] for more information.
Click here to watch a PSA produced by local teenagers about how vaccine can help us return to the things we love.
Camps should have a plan for what to do if a camper or staff member starts having symptoms of COVID-19, including knowing where they can go to get tested. A list of testing sites can be found at health.springfieldmo.gov/testing
If a fully vaccinated person is exposed to someone with COVID-19, they do not need to be tested for COVID-19 unless they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Any person participating in camp activities who experiences COVID-19 symptoms should get a COVID-19 test.
Stay home if sick
It is vital that camps have flexible sick policies in place to ensure that staff do not spread illness among their peers and campers. Even if an individual is fully vaccinated, they need to stay home if they experience any symptoms of COVID-19 and seek testing.
It is also important that parents do not send their children to camp if they are experiencing illness. While fewer children experience severe symptoms of COVID-19 compared with adults, children can spread the virus to others who are at higher risk of severe illness.
For information on quarantine and isolation protocols, click here.
Additional prevention measures
Anyone who has questions about maintaining a healthy camp environment may contact the regional COVID-19 call center at (417) 874-1211 or by emailing [email protected].
Media may contact the Health Department PIO Team by call or text at 417-380-2556 or email at [email protected]