Summer Camps and Child Care During COVID-19
As a Safe + Strong Oregon cautiously reopens the state, more and more parents are faced with the complicated decision of sending their child(ren) to day care, summer programs, or summer camps. In the midst of a global pandemic, what was once planning for summer fun now involves a convoluted mix of a shortage in finances, variable safety precautions, and concern about what activities are safe. Here are some factors to consider as your family weighs the uncertainty and the risk of getting COVID-19 against family well-being.
1. Does the camp or summer program have timed entry, staggered arrivals, or a maximum capacity?
Timed entry involves a specific timeframe for drop-offs and pick-ups, such as 8:00-9:00am drop-off and 4:00-5:00pm pick-up. This allows staff to more easily facilitate a process for safe entry and exit. Staggered arrivals allow for small groups of people to enter and exit at a time to avoid crowds. Generally speaking, programs should avoid groups of 25 people or greater, but maximum capacity will be dependent upon a given space. Summer programs that provide their square footage related to the number of children in their care can help families understand how physical distancing will work. The state requires that certified child-care centers must have a minimum of 35 square feet per child.
2. Do they have stable groups?
Children three-years-old and older should be in groups of no more than 10 and have one stable teacher throughout the day. Toddlers ages 1-2 years of age should have a 5:1 child-to-teacher ratio and also may not exceed 10 in a given stable group. Infants (under 12 months) should have a 4:1 infant-to-teacher ratio with a maximum of 8 in a given stable group. Floater staff are necessary for breaks, but interaction with a stable group should be consistent.
3. Do they have increased infection prevention and control procedures?
The Oregon Health Authority and Early Learning Division of the Oregon Department of Education have issued guidelines for child care facilities. It is a good idea to make sure your program is familiar with the guidelines and has communicated their plan to meet the requirements. In addition to frequent hand washing, limited contact, and heightened sanitization protocols, child-care facilities are required to keep daily logs and keep these records for each group of children. If they have a positive COVID-19 case, they should be able to report, at a minimum, the child’s name, drop-off/pick-up time, adult completing drop-off/pick-up, all staff that interact with stable group, all other riders if shared transportation is provided, and documentation of health checks.
Every day, they should be asking about cough or fever symptoms and exposure to anyone with suspected COVID-19 for every child and accompanying adult. Good programs or day cares will additionally check temperatures on arrival.
Also make sure that there is a requirement that children and staff persons who have symptoms stay home for 10 days after the start of symptoms and 72 hours after both fever and cough are gone without the use of fever-reducing medications.
4. Does anyone in your family have an increased risk for serious complications of COVID-19?
People who are older, pregnant, or who have underlying health conditions, including those with compromised immune systems or respiratory conditions like severe asthma, are at greater risk for serious complications of the virus. If any of these are relevant for your family or close contacts, this higher risk should be considered when thinking about sending your child to day care or summer camp. Your pediatrician can help discuss your family’s specific case. Just give us a call or email through the patient portal!
5. How comfortable do you feel about the unknown?
Ultimately, there are hundreds of contributors to how this pandemic will unfold and every decision about going outside our home is now a calculated risk. It will be a long time before we are going to concerts and Blazers games again, but as life slowly becomes more accessible, the best thing to do is to keep yourself informed. With every decision, ask yourself:
A) Is it inside or outside? (Outside is better)
B) Is my child or anyone in our family high-risk? How will I feel if my child or close family gets sick?
C) Does your child need to go or is it just nice and fun to go?
D) How confident am I in the facility’s stated safety and infection control procedures?
E) How confident am I that the staff are following the procedures consistently?
6. If I decide to send my child to day care or camp, what can I do to make sure they are as safe as possible?
Making sure your child is up to date on their well visits and vaccines is the best way to protect your child as they go to day care or camp where the risk of the virus is naturally higher. Regular preventative care helps make sure your child is as healthy as possible during a pandemic, making it easier for the body to fight off illnesses. Book online or call our office to schedule a well visit.
7. Should my child wear a mask at day care or camp?
Masks are recommended for children over the age of two years old when they are in public places where physical distancing is not possible. Children are not required to wear masks in child care centers. However, they are required for some staff so we encourage you to prepare and familiarize your child with masks if they have not had interactions with people wearing them.
If your child is old enough to wear a mask, they are most effective if used safely and properly. In addition to being over the age of 2 years old, they need to know how to put it on and take it off themselves, replace it if it becomes wet or dirty, not to touch their mask or face, and wear a clean one each day.