Sending Children to Day Camp During COVID-19

Important facts to consider besides how much fun they’ll have in the sun

While Gov. Larry Hogan has given the green light for day camps to be open, parents are still grappling with a difficult decision: whether it is safe to send their child during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cynthia Roldan, M.D., medical director of Carroll Hospital’s Pediatrics Department, says this is a difficult decision that requires many factors to consider.

The following are some important factors to weigh:

Does your child understand the importance of consistent hand-washing? “Hand-washing is the most important way to prevent infection,” says Dr. Roldan. “If it becomes a part of the child’s regular life at home, it’s going to be easier to get them to do it at camp.”

Does your child or any household member have pre-existing conditions? If your child has a pre-existing condition, such as diabetes or asthma, he or she may be at a higher risk of contracting a severe illness from COVID-19. And, if a child is asymptomatic, he or she could put a family member with a pre-existing condition at risk as well. “Parents have to consider their own family’s risk. It’s not just the risk to the child,” says Dr. Roldan.

Will your child wear a face mask? For children, wearing a mask comes with challenges. “It may be too much to expect a young child to wear a face mask all of the time. The staff will do their best to encourage that, but it’s difficult to do,” she says.

Will the facility ensure children practice social distancing? Everyone is supposed to maintain a distance of at least six feet apart and limit gatherings to less than 10 people.

Are camps disinfecting common areas or surfaces regularly? Doing this will not only kill germs but also limit the spread of infection. “Kids are constantly touching everything. If something is infected with COVID-19 and they then put their hands to their nose, face, mouth or eyes, that’s how the infection spreads,” Dr. Roldan says.

Outdoor play and activities are especially important for children, says Dr. Roldan. Parents must research, ask questions and weigh the risks before they register their children.

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