The New Jersey Department of Health issued COVID-19 health and safety guidelines for summer youth camps Monday following Governor Murphy’s executive order allowing camps to operate beginning July 6.
Officials said they are aware that the opening of youth day camps is important because it will provide New Jersey working families who are in need of childcare services with viable options in addition to traditional childcare centers. The new state guidelines provide procedures for camp operators to implement health and safety standards for staff and campers including health screening, proper hygiene, and social distancing. The guidelines also set ratios for staff members and campers.
“Summers for our children means being outdoors and engaging in activities with friends, and for many, day camps are an important part of their summer,” said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “These guidelines will help ensure the health and safety of our children, camp workers, and the greater community from the infection and spread of COVID-19.”
Under the guidelines, cloth face coverings for staff and campers must be worn when social distancing of six feet between assigned groups cannot be maintained. Staff members are also encouraged to wear cloth masks while working unless doing so would inhibit the staff member’s health, the person is in extreme heat outdoors, or the person is in water. Cloth face coverings should not be put on children under the age of od two because of the danger of suffocation, officials said.
Daily health screening for COVID-19 will be put in place at the entry of camps for both campers and staff members. Both indoor and outdoor camps should ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that groups include the same children each day and that the same staff members remain with the same group each day. Mixing between groups should be restricted, officials said.
Residential and overnight camps are not permitted, officials said. Off-site activities, field trips, contact sports, and inter-group competitions are prohibited.
Youth summer day camps will be permitted to operate on or after July 6 as long as they develop and implement a COVID-19 operational plan that meets the requirements of Executive Order 149 and the guidelines. All summer youth camps are required to submit a Youth Camp Attestation Form to the Department of Health no later than 24 hours before the opening date.
Youth camps are licensed by the New Jersey Health Department, and applications must be completed and submitted at least 14 days prior to the start date of activities.
On May 29, the New Jersey Department of Human Services announced the availability of up to $20 million in grants to assist childcare centers and youth camps in meeting health and safety guidelines in response to COVID-19. Childcare centers can receive up to $5,000, while youth camps can receive up to $2,000. The money can be used to purchase additional cleaning products, personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, and thermometers, and other products and services to assist centers in complying with the state guidelines. The grants are available to licensed childcare providers and youth camps that comply with state health and safety guidance. The providers must be registered with the NJ Workforce Registry and must apply through the New Jersey Child Care Information System (NJCCIS). Officials said applications are subject to review and approval.