GHENT—On May 19, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new state guidance for camp programs. Some municipalities in the county that offer summer day camps have already decided to cancel their programs again this year due to the pandemic, while others are moving ahead. The new measures include protocols for Covid-19 testing, physical distancing, masks and sanitation. A release from the governor’s office said the state Department of Health will continue to monitor and evaluate health metrics for camp programs “and, if necessary, will issue further guidance.”
Changes were made after the original guidelines were released concerning mask wearing for young children.
“We are continuing to make incredible progress against Covid and lifting restrictions based on the science and numbers, but we are not yet at the finishline,” Governor Cuomo said in a press release on May 19. “To help ensure maximum protections for staff and children at child care and camp programs, we are issuing this guidance so the facilities can implement basic but critical measures that will allow them to operate safely.”
Currently only children 12 years old and older can be vaccinated against Covid-19, and vaccinations for those children only became available May 12, so many children in Columbia County will not be fully vaccinated until mid-June. According to the guidelines, fully vaccinated against Covid-19 is defined as 14 days after completion of the vaccine series of two injections of most vaccines. All other individuals are considered unvaccinated.
The county Department of Health is hosting an upcoming Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination clinic at the Columbia County Fairgrounds Fair House, 182 Hudson Avenue, Chatham, for Ichabod Crane and Chatham students between the ages of 12-15 on Wednesday, June 2, from 4 to 7 p.m. There is information on the Chatham Central School District’s website at www.chathamcentralschools.com
As for summer camps, according to the state, facilities and programs must collect Covid-19 vaccination status and documentation for all staff and children, and implement mandatory daily health screening practices of their staff and visitors, including daily temperature checks. Facilities and programs need to notify the state and local health department immediately upon being informed of any positive Covid-19 test result by a staff member or child at their site.
Updated guidelines from May 24 say: “Responsible parties should encourage that children/campers age 2 and older who are not fully vaccinated wear face coverings except when eating, drinking, showering, swimming, or sleeping/resting. Young children/campers (i.e. those that are not yet in kindergarten) do not need to wear face coverings when they are in childcare or day camp program facility or area. Older children/campers are encouraged but not required to wear face coverings as feasible.”
The guidelines also say that “campers are not required to wear a face covering when utilizing the outdoor space that belongs to and/or is exclusively used by the childcare or day camp program” and “day camps that have access to a pool must adhere to State and DOH guidelines regarding swimming pools.” They also say that campers may “remove face coverings outdoors when they are unable to tolerate a face covering for the physical activity.
“Social distancing and face covering requirements do not apply to those who are fully vaccinated except as otherwise specified in this document,” according to the state guidelines.
The full guidance document is at forward.ny.gov/education-child-care-camps-industry-guidance#_blank
Assemblyman Jake Ashby (R-107th) was one of the people who pointed out the issue with masks in the original guidelines. In a statement released May 24, he called for the state DOH to eliminate the new mask policy on young children in summer camps. His statement says that the state previously did not require children younger than kindergarten-age to wear a mask in summer camp settings.
The state changed the guidance from requiring masks to recommending them for young children.
The towns of Kinderhook, Chatham and New Lebanon will be hosting summer day programs as well as the Village of Kinderhook ; The towns of Ghent and Austerlitz canceled their programs.
Kinderhook hosts children from the Town of Stuyvesant, which does not have its own program. Also, for the last several years the town has bused campers to Crellin Park in Chatham for swimming. Those towns will not be doing that this year. The Kinderhook Town Board discussed raising the price for the camp program at their May 4 meeting. After hearing concerns from several board members, they decided to raise the fee by about $50 for the summer, making it $150 for the 6-week program or $30 a week. At the May meeting the board did not discuss safety protocols for the camp. Camp runs from July 6 to August 13.
The Town Board in Chatham reviewed protocols for their summer program with Recreation Director Mike West at a board workshop meeting on May 6. Mr. West also discussed use of the pond for swimming at Crellin Park this summer, saying the town would limit capacity.
‘Social distancing and face covering requirements do not apply to those who are fully vaccinated except as otherwise specified in this document.’
Guidance for summer camps
from state health department
For the day camp program, Mr. West mentioned masks, limiting group sizes and keeping campers in the same cohorts. He also talked about increasing the fees for camp, which have not been raised since 2018. The fees will go up this year to $175 for residents and $350 for non-residents. Mr. West told the board that “it does sound like a large increase,” but he pointed out it costs about $6 a day for residents and $12 a day for non-residents.
The town will be hosting an in-person registration for its summer day camp on Tuesday, June 1 for Town of Chatham residents only and Thursday, June 3 for non-town residents, from 6 to 8 p.m.
According to the Crellin Facebook page, “Our program is able to accommodate 105 camp participants. There are no guarantees that all registrations will be accepted during our in-person registration.” More information is at https://www.chathamnewyork.us
As reported in the Columbia Paper recently, the 2021 Copake Park Summer Program plans to open. The plan presented to the Copake Town Board calls for a maximum of 65 campers, ages 5 to 12, who will be divided into six smaller groups according to age. The park will be split into six regions, and each area will have some kind of shelter and its own water jug, medical kit and Covid kit. According to a story in April reported by Diane Valden, the board gave tentative approval to move forward with summer camp this year and gave final approval in May.
The Town of New Lebanon also announced that their Summer Youth Program will take place this year. The program will begin on June 28 through August 20. For more information visit the town’s website at www.townofnewlebanon.com
The Canaan Town Board approved a summer swim program from July 5 to August 15 at their meeting in May.
Information on other towns’ camp programs will be on the town’s website. There are also privately run day camps in the county that will be open this summer.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email email@example.com