TRENTON – New Jersey’s Department of Health has issued COVID-19 health and safety guidelines for summer youth camps following Governor Murphy’s executive order allowing operations beginning July 6.
The opening of youth day camps will provide New Jersey families who are in need of childcare services with a viable option in addition to traditional childcare centers. The guidelines provide procedures for camp operators to implement health and safety standards for staff and campers such as screening, hygiene, social distancing and staff/camper ratios.
“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 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.”
Executive Order No. 149, signed by Governor Murphy, allows the resumption of childcare services, youth day camps and organized sports.
Youth summer day camps will be permitted to operate on or after July 6 provided that they develop and implement a COVID Operational Plan that meets the requirements of Executive Order 149 and the guidelines. All summer youth camps are required to submit the Youth Camp Attestation Form to the Department of Health no later than 24 hours prior to the opening date.
Under the guidelines, cloth face coverings for staff and campers shall be worn when social distancing of 6 feet between assigned groups cannot be maintained. Staff are also encouraged to wear cloth masks while working unless doing so would inhibit the individual’s health; the individual is in extreme heat outdoors; or the individual is in water. Cloth face coverings should not be put on children under age two because of the danger of suffocation.
Daily health screening for COVID-19 will be put in place at entry for campers and staff. 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 remain with the same group each day. Mixing between groups should be restricted.
Residential and overnight camps are not permitted. In addition, off-site activities, field trips, contact sports and inter-group competitions are prohibited.
Youth camps are licensed by the state 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 appropriate guidelines.
The grants are available to licensed childcare providers and youth camps that comply with updated 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). Applications are subject to review and approval.