Supporting camps during COVID-19

Last revised: July 23, 2021 

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Overview 

We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic may have caused difficult times and the decision to send your child(ren) to camp is not easy. Each family should assess their own individual situation especially if your child(ren), family and household members are at higher risk for serious outcomes due to the COVID-19 virus. You may also want to consider your child’s health condition, their needs, and your family’s ability to find alternative child care. Each family should choose what is best for them. 

Keeping COVID-19 transmission low in the community is important to help prevent the introduction of the virus into settings such as camps, schools and child care. The primary goal is to make camps as safe as possible. Parents, OPH and camp operators each have a role to play in keeping children as safe as possible. 

The Provincial guidance provides the direction for camp operators. OPH will continue to support Providers via the OPH information line (613-580-6744) as well as the Outbreak Reporting Line if questions arise regarding case management and/or outbreaks. 

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COVID-19 symptoms in children

 COVID-19 symptoms in children
 When assessing for symptoms, focus on whether they are new, worsening, or different from your child’s baseline health status or usual state. Symptoms associated with known chronic health conditions or related to other known causes/conditions should not be considered unless new, different or worsening. 

This chart does not replace the need to complete screening each day before school or child care. The screening tool acts as a decision guide to support parents and guardians to assess whether or not their child can attend school or child care. Please complete daily for each child separately.

 

Type Symptoms

 

COVID-19 symptoms

 

  • Symptoms most commonly association with COVID-19 infection
  • Children with one of the listed symptoms, should stay home, isolate and get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible
  • Fever (temperature 37.8 C/100 F or higher)
  • Chills
  • Cough (more than usual if chronic cough) including croup (barking cough, making a whistling noise when breathing) not related to other known causes or conditions (for example, asthma, reactive airway)
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea, out of breath, unable to breath deeply, wheeze, that is worse than usual if chronically short of breath) not related to other known causes or conditions (for example, asthma)
  • Decrease or loss of smell or taste (new olfactory or taste disorder) not related to other knows causes or conditions (for example, nasal polyps, allergies, neurological disorders)
  • Sore throat (painful swallowing or difficulty swallowing) not related to other known causes or conditions (for example, post nasal drip, gastroesophageal (acid) reflux);
  • Stuffy nose and/or runny nose (nasal congestion and/or rhinorrhea) not related to other known causes or conditions (for example, seasonal allergies, returning inside from the cold, chronic sinusitis unchanged from baseline, reactive airways)
  • Headache that is new or persistent, unusual, unexplained, or long-lasting not related to known causes or conditions (for example, tension-type headache, chronic migraines)
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea, not related to other known causes or conditions (transient vomiting due to anxiety in children, chronic vestibular dysfunction, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, side effect of medication)
  • Fatigue, lethargy, muscle aches or malaise (general feeling of being unwell, lack of energy, extreme tiredness, poor feeding in infants) that is unusual or unexplained, not related to other known causes or conditions (for example, depression, insomnia, thyroid disfunction, anemia)

 

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Notice of Risk for Day Camps and Overnight Camps

When children from different families attend the same setting (e.g. camp) to participate in programming, there is an increased risk of the COVID-19 virus being transmitted. Children who are infected with the COVID-19 virus are more likely than adults to develop very mild infections or to exhibit no symptoms at all, but these children can still transmit the infection to other children and adults. This means that children can bring home an infection acquired at a camp program and put other persons at risk. Summer camps have a screening process to help detect an infection in a person who shows symptoms; however, this process will not detect an infection in children or adults who do not have symptoms at the time of screening. 

The risk of serious COVID-19 infection increases with age―especially after age 50. Older staff and family members should consider their personal risk when making decisions related to children attending camps and remain SocialWise. 

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New changes to self-isolation for fully vaccinated people (New updates July 19, 2021)

If your child has COVID-19 like symptoms: household contacts that are fully vaccinated, and do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, do not need to isolate while waiting for the symptomatic child’s test results.

You may consider yourself ‘fully vaccinated’ when it has been 14 days after receiving your second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series approved by Health Canada: Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTEch, or AstraZeneca. Or, when it has been 14 days after receiving a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine series approved by Health Canada:  Janssen (Johnson and Johnson).

If someone is fully vaccinated and develops symptoms of COVID-19, they are still required to self-isolate and seek testing.

For more information on what to do if you are high risk contact of someone with COVID-19 visit COVID-19 High Risk Contacts for more information.

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Roles

Ottawa Public Health's role: 

In accordance with provincial standards and guidance, OPH: 

  • Manages follow up for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and provides guidance to camp providers on outbreak management 
  • Communicates any local recommendations to camp providers on prevention of transmission for COVID-19 
  • Supports local camps providers in following provincial guidance 

 Camp providers role: 

  • Develops and implements reopening plans following guidelines and recommendations from the Ministry of Health and Ottawa Public Health. 
  • Communicates with families and staff about COVID-19 prevention measures and how those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and outbreaks will be supported. 
  • Ensures accurate records of staff and children’s attendance, as well up-to-date contact information for staff and children that can be accessed in a timely manner for investigations and communications. 
  • Facilitates training of staff with respect to outbreak prevention and control measures and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Parent(s)/ guardian(s) role: 

  • Using the screening tool, screen your child every morning, even on weekends. The tool will help you decide whether your child should attend camp or start isolating.
  • Have your child tested for COVID-19 based on recommendations of screening tool, health care provider or Ottawa Public Health (OPH) 
  • Keep your child(dren) home while waiting for COVID-19 test results and/ or if they are a high-risk contact of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. All household members must also self-isolate while waiting for test results if child has symptoms. 
  • Call the camp as soon as possible if your child: 
    • Has COVID-19 like symptoms and will not be attending camp, 
    • Tested positive for COVID-19 and is self-isolating, or 
    • Is self-isolating because they are a high risk contact of someone who has tested positive 
  • Provide the camp with up-to-date contact information for each parent or guardian and emergency contacts 
  • Inform the camp of any medical conditions your child(ren) may have (provide appropriate documents as needed) 
  • Ensure your child’s immunizations are up to date
  • Have a plan in place in the event your child cannot attend camp for an extended period or is required to go home during the day
  • Contact the Ottawa Public Health Information Centre (OPHIC) at (613) 580-6744 if you have any questions about any message received from OPH 
  • Please note: Parents/guardians do not need to call OPH to inform them that a child is sick, has COVID-like symptoms, or has a negative COVID result. OPH will contact parents/guardians as needed.

Frequently asked questions

COVID-19 Screening Tool

Which screening tool should be completed for anyone under 18 years old (including campers and camp staff) prior to attending camp?
The COVID-19 Screening Tool for School or Child Care (child) should be completed daily for each child or camp staff (less than 18 years old) prior to attending camp.
Which self-screening tool should staff/camp operators aged 18 and over complete prior to attending camp?
The COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces (Adult) should be completed daily by all camp staff/operators (aged 18 and over) prior to attending camp.

COVID-19 Testing and results

 Is pre-camp testing required for asymptomatic campers?

If your child will be attending a day camp: 

Pre-camp testing for asymptomatic (no symptoms) campers who have not been in close physical contact with someone who currently has COVID-19 and are not part of a specific outbreak investigation is not required as per the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for: Day Camps.

If your child will be attending an overnight camp:

Pre-camp testing for asymptomatic (no symptoms) campers who have not been in close physical contact with someone who currently has COVID-19 and are not part of a specific outbreak investigation is not required as per the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for: Overnight Camps. However, overnight campers and staff have been included in the target test groups as per the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Provincial Testing Guidance Update-V. 12.1 May 26, 2021. 

Please visit OPH’s COVID-19 Testing Information to ensure you have current information about testing options and locations available to you. 

Does my child, who is attending a camp as a participant/camper, need proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to attending camp? 

If your child is attending day camp: 

  • Your child does not need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test to attend camp.   

  • Use the COVID-19 Screening Tool for School or Child Care to screen your child before going to camp each day and follow the steps outlined by the tool. 

If your child is attending overnight camp: 

  • Your child does not need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test to attend camp. 

  • Use the COVID-19 Screening Tool for School or Child Care to screen your child before going to camp and follow the steps outlined by the tool. 

  • If you wish to have your child tested before attending overnight camp regardless of the outcome of the screening tool and your child does not have symptoms, you can ask for testing at participating pharmacies listed on the Ministry of Health website.  

Symptoms

What happens if my child develops symptoms while at day camp? 

If your child develops symptoms while at camp, they will be brought to a designated isolation area within the camp, be provided with a medical mask (if tolerated), and will be supervised by a staff member. Please plan to pick up your child from camp as soon as possible. Use the COVID-19 Screening Tool for School and Child Care to determine whether your child should start isolating and go for testing. Any siblings and/or household members* of the symptomatic camper will also be sent home.

*If there are household contacts that are fully vaccinated, and they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, they do not need to isolate while waiting for the symptomatic child’s test results.  

You may consider yourself ‘fully vaccinated’ when it has been 14 days after receiving your second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series approved by Health Canada (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca). Or, when it has been 14 days after receiving a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine series approved by Health Canada:  Janssen (Johnson and Johnson). 

 

Does my child need to have a negative COVID-19 test result or a doctor’s note in order to return to camp after recovering from COVID-19? 

No. Children can return to camp if they have completed their 10 days of self-isolation, have no fever (without use of fever reducing medications) and their symptoms have been improving* for 24 hours (48 hours if the symptoms were vomiting and/or diarrhea). Isolation may be extended beyond 10 days, if directed by OPH.

*Note: Mild symptoms like a runny nose do not have to be completely gone when your child returns to day camp provided the mild symptom is improving and other symptoms have stopped.

My child developed one or more new symptoms over the weekend. The symptoms disappeared on Monday morning. Can my child attend camp?

Even if symptoms start on a day your child is not attending camp (such as weekends, statutory holidays), your child must stay home and may not return to camp until: 

  • They receive a negative COVID-19 test result OR;   

  • if the child does not get tested, it has been 10 days since the onset of their symptom(s) OR;   

  • They receive an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional.  

  • AND, symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours without fever reducing medications. If a child’s symptoms included vomiting or diarrhea, these symptoms must be resolved for 48 hours prior to returning to camp, school or childcare. 

Each member of your household* will need to self-isolate until the test result is received.

*If there are household contacts that are fully vaccinated, and they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, they do not need to isolate while waiting for the symptomatic child’s test results.  

You may consider yourself ‘fully vaccinated’ when it has been 14 days after receiving your second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series approved by Health Canada (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca). Or, when it has been 14 days after receiving a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine series approved by Health Canada:  Janssen (Johnson and Johnson). 

 

Outbreak

What is considered an outbreak in a day camp setting?  
A COVID-19 outbreak is declared in a day camp setting when OPH has determined that there may have been a risk of spread of COVID-19 between two or more people in the camp setting within a 14 day period. 
 What happens once an outbreak is declared in a day camp 
Once an outbreak in a day camp is confirmed, OPH will reach out to the facility contact and obtain a list of close contacts. A letter will be sent to parents notifying them that their child is a close contact and the next steps to takewhich includes staying home, monitoring for symptoms and going for testing when it’s appropriate. OPH will continue to investigate to determine any other close contacts and monitor the situation until the outbreak can be declared over.
Can a day camp remain open when an outbreak is declared? 
Yes, a day camp can remain open during an outbreak depending on the situation. The ability for the day camp to remain open will depend on how many cohorts (groups of children) are affected.  When an outbreak is declared in a day camp, an investigation will take place to determine which cohorts are affected and parents/guardians will be notified of next steps. Some cohorts may need to be in self-isolation at home until a date determined by OPH. 
When an outbreak is declared at a day camp, are all staff and children considered potential contacts?  
Possible, but not necessarily - each situation is different. An OPH investigation will take place to determine which cohorts (groups of children) are affected at the camp and if the child had contact with the positive case.  

Masks and physical distancing

Does my child need to wear a mask while at day camp? 
Campers in Grades 1 and above should wear a well-fitting mask at all times when indoors (except when eating/drinking and ensuring physical distancing and/or barriers are in place) unless exempt. See OPH’s tips on choosing and wearing masks. 
During outdoor camp activities, are campers required to keep a 2 metre physical distance and/or wear a mask within a cohort?
No. Masking and physically distancing outdoors is not required by campers within a cohort.  A cohort is permitted to participate in close contact activities outdoors; however, we still recommend to choose or modify activities to minimize close contact in order encourage physical distancing in every extent possible.  Physical distancing is required between individuals of other cohorts.
Does my child (participant/camper) need to wear a mask during water activities (e.g. while using pools, lakes, beaches, splash pads, wading poolsetc.)? 

A mask should not be worn during water activities as it will become wet and will no longer be effective. Campers should maintain physical distancing of at least two metres during water activities.  

Please send extra masks with your child in case masks become soiled or wet.  

General

Are visitors, such as parents, allowed in the day camp? 

No. Entrance to camp facilities is restricted to campers, staff, and essential visitors. 

If a parent/guardian must enter the camp’s facilities, only one parent/guardian per camper is permitted and they are required to wear a non-medical mask, maintain physical distancing of at least two metres from others, and only go where directed by staff. 

Can camps require additional measures and precautions from participants that go beyond those provided by the Ministry of Health? 

Yes—within reason and legislation. Camp operators may implement their own policies that would offer additional protection from COVID-19 transmission than what Ottawa Public Health or the Ministry of Health has recommended. Camp operators are responsible for the administration and implications of any supplemental measures they choose to implement within their facility.

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Useful links and resources: 

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Contact Information

Provincial Vaccine Information Line

  • 7 days a week, from 8 am to 8 pm
  • Call if you have questions about Ontario's COVID-19 vaccination program.
  • Service is available in multiple languages.
  • Telephone: 1-888-999-6488
  • TTY: 1-866-797-0007

Ottawa Public Health COVID-19 Telephone Line

  • Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 4:30 pm
  • Weekends, from 9 am to 4 pm
  • Translation is available in multiple languages
  • Telephone: 613-580-6744 follow the prompts to the COVID-19 telephone line
  • TTY: 613-580-9656

Emergency Services

  • If you are in distress (e.g., significant trouble breathing, chest pain, fainting or have a significant worsening of any chronic disease symptoms), do not go to the Assessment Centre or a COVID-19 Care clinic. Go to the nearest Emergency Department or call 9-1-1.

See someone not respecting COVID-19 rules?

How to access help during COVID-19

  • 211 Ontario can help you find financial and social support during COVID-19
  • Telephone: 2-1-1

Related Information

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