Youth Camps and COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Last updated May 21, 2020

1. Where can I find the latest guidance related to youth camps and will this guidance be revised?

Youth camps are included in all of our discussions and plans. Note that, unless otherwise specified, the responses to questions in the Child Care and COVID-19 FAQ apply to all child care settings, including youth camps. Specific guidance for youth camps is included in OEC’s Coronavirus Memo #7, Memo #15, and Memo #18. We anticipate that there will be changes as the situation evolves — and as we get further guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH). Continue to check our COVID-19 website for updates.

2. What are the limitations on group sizes for youth camps and who is included as a part of the group size?

Following the guidance in OEC’s Coronavirus Memo #15 and the requirements in Executive Order No. 7Q, youth camps must limit group size to no more than 10 children (including counselors in training). The group size requirement is for all camps — including sport camps and residential and day camps — whether indoors or outdoors. This restriction does not include camp staff.

3. What measures need to be taken to protect the health and safety of children and staff?

All youth camps should have measures in place to maintain separation between groups within the facility to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Such measures would include maintaining consistent small groups of children, keeping groups in separate spaces while in attendance, having no more than 10 children together at one time, preventing groups of children from coming in contact with other groups of children, enhanced cleaning, and staffing patterns that minimize movement of staff between groups of children throughout the day.

4. How do youth camps apply to serve more than 30 children?

Camps must obtain approval from OEC to serve more than 30 children on any given day. Approval will be dependent on a camp’s ability to demonstrate sufficient separation of groups of children to limit the spread of the virus as described above. Download the application to seek approval.

5. What health and safety procedures are youth camps required to follow during COVID-19?

Enhanced screening and sanitizing procedures are required for all youth camps. You can get the details in OEC’s Coronavirus Memo #18 and Executive Order No. 7Q

6. Where can youth camps get emergency supplies needed to implement the health screening and intensified cleaning and disinfection protocols?

OEC has been working closely with the State’s Emergency Operations Center to secure health and cleaning supplies for use by open licensed child care providers. Because supplies are limited, for now we have to focus on getting them to child care programs currently serving young children. As supplies become available, they will also be available to open and licensed camps.

7. Who is required to wear masks at a youth camp?

Per Executive Order No. 7BB, every employee must use a cloth face covering at all times in the workplace. Please see Department of Economic Development Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employees. Executive Order No. 7BB does not require the use of face masks by: 

  • Anyone for whom doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety
  • A child in a child care setting, including youth camps
  • Anyone under the age 2, or an older child if the parent, guardian, or person responsible for the child is unable to place the mask safely on the child’s face

8. What are the social distancing guidelines for youth camps?

Per the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers, companies should develop and implement practices for social distancing. At this time, use CDC guidelines for social distancing for child care as a basis for developing these practices.

9. What if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 among the children, staff, or families?

OEC Coronavirus Memo #18 provides information about reporting cases of COVID-19 to the Connecticut Department of Public Health and to the local department of health in individual’s town of residence. If you have further questions regarding local cases of COVID-19, please contact your local department of health.

10. What are the rules for license-exempt and/or municipal camp programs?

According to Executive Order No. 7Q, limited group sizes and enhanced health procedures apply “to all childcare operations, including but not limited to childcare centers, group childcare homes, family childcare homes, youth camps, and childcare facilities that are exempt from licensing requirements pursuant to Section 19a-77 of the Connecticut General Statutes.”

11. When should we apply to renew our youth camp license?

You can apply to renew your youth camp license now, but you can also choose to let your license lapse and reinstate it if you decide to open later in the year. Please note that it takes several days to process a reinstatement application. Keep in mind that if you do pay for a license and later decide not to open, you can’t get your payment back.

12. How do we handle requirements for staff that they are not able to complete at this time?

Per OEC Memo #7, required staff certifications that expire during the declared state of emergency will be recognized. This includes First Aid/CPR, med admin, and activity specialist training (e.g., life guarding, archery). In addition, staff physicals for youth camps that expire during the declared state of emergency are acceptable.

Additional guidance will be provided regarding meeting requirements upon the lifting of the state of emergency.

13. If we offer a virtual camp, do we need to be licensed?  

No. Youth camps that operate remotely don’t need to hold a camp license to operate because they are not taking responsibility for the physical care of children.

14. How will specialty camps (e.g., sports camps, residential camps, camps that are co-located with other programs or facilities) be addressed?

OEC’s current guidance applies to all kinds of camps, although OEC recognizes that great variation exists. If CDC or DPH issue more specific guidance for youth camps, OEC will consider how different types of camps are addressed and determine if additional clarification or modification is needed.

15. How will swimming be affected by the enhanced health and safety practices? 

The requirement for no more than 10 children in one space also applies when children are engaged in swimming activities. A minimum of 6 feet between groups shall be maintained. Continuous wearing of masks or cloth face coverings by staff is not required in outdoor workspaces where staff do not regularly come within 6 feet of others.

16. How should we handle dining?

The requirement for no more than 10 children in one space also applies when children are dining. If the dining hall is very large and 2 or 3 groups of 10 children can remain at least 6 feet apart, all 3 groups may be in the dining hall at one time. However, if the camp serves over 30, approval to do so must be granted and such approval requires each group of 10 children to be in separate rooms. Therefore, at camps serving over 30 children, only one group of children may be in the dining hall at one time. Camps are encouraged to utilize extra rotations to reduce the number of children and staff in the dining hall at one time to achieve social distancing norms.

17. How do we handle health and immunization paperwork for new and returning students?

Health and immunization records for children that previously attended the camp that expire during the declared emergency are acceptable. Health and immunization records for children that have been attending a legally operating child care program or school that has been temporarily closed due to COVID-19 are not required — provided the parent attests in writing that the child is up-to-date with their physical examination and immunizations and provides information regarding any disabilities and/or special health care needs.

18. Can we go on field trips?

Plans for field trips must adhere to guidance related to group size, use of masks, social distancing, and enhanced cleaning and sanitizing processes. If the field trip takes place in a public place in Connecticut and staff or children are not able to maintain a safe social distance of approximately 6 feet from every other person, they shall cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face covering.

19. What about transportation?

At this time, the current guidance regarding group sizes, wearing of masks, and social distancing would also apply when children are being transported while in the care of the camp. Enhanced cleaning procedures would also be required between groups if multiple groups of students are being transported using the same vehicle.

20. How can we contact OEC with additional questions or suggestions for the safe operation of youth camps?

Call 800-282-6063 or 860-500-4450 with questions regarding youth camps. Since OEC staff is not in the office, leave a message and we’ll return your call.