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Long Island Camps Have Message For Schools: We Have Safety Protocols You May Want To Adopt This Fall

MELVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Five weeks into the camp season and camping leaders are making note of what appears to be working locally.

They’re offering up their coronavirus safety protocols as a possible template for reopening schools, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday.

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Every camper and staffer gets a daily temperature check. Arrivals and dismissals are staggered for social distancing. And once inside Camp Crestwood in Melville, campers separate into small cohorts of 15. Even at lunch, they are seated together with tables 6 feet apart. Utensils are not shared.

Equipment is sanitized between uses.

It’s a model followed by Long Island day camps that Crestwood owner and LICAPS president Mark Transport said is working.

“We feel that the success of camp is certainly going to determine if people have an appetite to open schools,” Transport said.


Five weeks into the camp season there had been only one had a handful of COVID-19 posItives, but the potential spread was quickly contained. Camp leaders believe their protocols can be used as a template for opening schools.

“A classroom could be considered a cohort group just like it is at camp. There is no reason why there has to be any interaction between classes at all,” Transport said.

“The idea is to contain it. If there is a case, you quarantine that one class or that one group and the rest of school and the rest of the camp, in this case, can go on,” Camp Crestwood co-owner Mark Hemmerdinger said.

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Parents welcome the socialization, child care and a bit of normalcy, but the idea of attending school makes some nervous.

“I’m concerned more for school because it’s indoors. It’s sick season,” one parent said.

At many camps, face coverings are only worn by staffers.

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Pediatrician Dr. Eve Meltzer-Krief said much can be learned from camp cohorts, but masks will be universally needed indoors.

“They can have period mask breaks. We encourage that, preferably outside. Or the teacher can consider alternating rows every hour. The children can take off masks,” said Meltzer-Krief, the regional legislative chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Just as important, camp directors said, has been their emphasis to counselors about the need to be responsible outside camp.

“There hasn’t been one case. I think that says a lot that the counselors are being responsible,” a counselor named Sam said.

“We have approached them and have said, look, it’s your choice. You can go to that party, but if you do you can’t work here,” Transport said.

The message appears to be getting through.

Two more weeks to go and then a wealth of experience school districts and parents can evaluate.

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