Local Health Expert Weighs In On COVID-19 Precautions As Parents Enroll Children In Summer Camps

Monday, May 3rd 2021, 5:42 pm
By: Ashley Holden

Parents are starting to register their kids at summer camp, but the pandemic isn’t over.

Some places in the metro have been preparing to host day and overnight camps since last year.

COVID experts said parents should look at the activity they are signing up for and find out what precautions will be in place.

"It is very important that we maintain as much mitigation strategy for kids as we can," said OU Med's Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler.

He said it’s so important because kids under 16 aren’t eligible for the vaccine and kids can bring the virus home.

Bratzler said camp locations should have precautions and follow the CDC's new guidelines for summer camps.

News 9 asked if there are riskier camps than others. Dr. Bratzler said outdoor activities are always safer than indoor, but he encourages parents to check what protocol campers will have to follow.

"If it’s a residential camp where kids are going to live in cabins, how many kids to a cabin," said Dr. Bratzler. "Do you keep them cohorted?"  

"We've been preparing since the beginning of the pandemic we actually never closed," said VP of Communications for the local YMCA Christin King.

She said they are looking at CDC guidelines, and the requirements of the school districts they partner with.

"We will require a mask when they are in large groups or inside, but we always opt for outdoor activities," said King.

She also said in small groups and outdoor activities masks won't be required.

"Our overnight camps will be more by bunk instead of small group with a counselor," said King.

The CDC recommends encouraging staff to get vaccinated. Bratzler said some places may even require it, but that is not the case at the Y.

"We certainly encourage our staff and everyone in our community to seek out getting a vaccination, but it’s not required," said King.

Bratzler recommends kids between 12 and 15 get vaccinated once they are eligible.

An emergency use authorization for that age group is expected soon.