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Coachella Valley summer camps adjust to new CDC guidelines

Last year, the coronavirus pandemic cancelled or changed summer camps all across the country. Now, the CDC has released new guidance on how they can operate this upcoming season.

“They are requiring the kids to wear masks and they are still requiring some social distancing," said Sarie Gonsalves. "They are going to have anybody that is not related stay in separate tents so my kids four of them are going so they’ll be able to bunk up together.” 

Sarie Gonsalves, mother of five boys, is happy that in-person summer camps are back. 

"I am excited for them get all the experiences to going to camp that they missed out on," said Gonsalves.

Her son, Carson is counting the days.  

“Hanging out with my friends and all the experiences you get," said Gonsalves.

But how much joy can be had at camp in a pandemic?

“This year will be alot like going to back to years past where there will be 20 kids in each room they’ll be able to interact," said Dallas Williams.

Dallas Williams, program director for the YMCa, told News Channel 3 they are ready and aware of the new CDC guidelines which suggests children in the same group can get three feet from each other  at summer camp when they are not eating or drinking. 

“As of right now we are still at six feet apart so we make sure each room that has those 20 kids they are still able to maintain safe distance," said Williams.

While keeping COVID-19 protocols in place like mask wearing and temperature checks, Boy Scouts of America is hoping to have about 200 campers per camp this summer.  

((sot jordan mccandless--district executive for boy scouts of america)) 

“We've been running cohorts at 14 and that would be 14 total of combined youth and adults," said Jordan Mccandless, District Executive for Boy Scouts of America. "We're hoping with summer camp and we're optimistic that we'll be able to have larger cohorts, so we'll be able to accommodate more youth and adults in each group.” 

The updated guidance also emphasizes activities  should be outdoors as much and as often as possible. 

"It's going to be fun," said Mccandless. "It's needed for them to get outside with the year that we've had I feel strongly that as many youth, as we can get there is really a service to our community, really a service to our families.” 

In guidance posted on Saturday, the CDC notes that vaccines are not yet authorized for children of all ages, so prevention measures such as mask-wearing and physical distancing must continue, even after camp employees are vaccinated. With few exceptions, “all people in camp facilities should wear masks at all times,” it says. Masks should not be worn while eating, drinking or swimming, the guidance notes.

The CDC recommends cohorting campers — creating small groups that don’t interact — and says campers within a cohort should maintain 3 feet of distance, and 6 feet while eating or drinking. Campers from different cohorts should keep 6 feet of distance, and campers and staff should stay 6 feet apart.

The updated guidance also emphasizes that camp activities should take place outside as much as possible. If activities are held indoors, “bring in as much fresh air into camp buildings as possible” by opening windows and using fans.

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Dani Romero

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