COVID-19 Mitigation Plan

This guideline document has been compiled using the latest available resources from CDC, Massachusetts Dept of Early Education & Care (EEC), and the American Camp Association (ACA). The core of the content comes from ACA guidelines, adapted for Empow’s specific camp situations and needs and supplemented from CDC and MA EEC and DPH sources, as applies to Empow camps. 

This guideline will be updated as new information becomes available. It assumes that Empow Management has reviewed state guidance and has decided that Empow is allowed to operate its camp programs under the 4-phase reopening plan. Where possible and practical, this document refers to source documents to help review our standards for compliance and safety. 

Reference documents:

Summary

Empow Studios has developed a robust safety plan to address the risks associated with COVID-19. Our plans follow the latest guidelines issued by the MA Dept. of Early Education and Care (EEC), the MA Dept. of Public Health (DPH), the American Camp Association (ACA), and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), where applicable. This summary provides a high-level overview of key components of our plan.

  1. As the primary route of transmission for COVID-19 is respiratory, face masks are among the most critical components of risk reduction, with an estimated near 80% effectiveness in reducing COVID-19 transmission. Therefore, we are requiring that all campers and staff wear masks at all times during camp, both indoors and outdoors.
  2. Physical distancing is another key practice that helps mitigate transmission of the virus. Studies suggest that keeping 3 feet apart while NOT wearing a mask results in reduction of transmission of the virus by 75%, and additional distance providing additional protection. EEC regulations specify a distance of 6 feet when not wearing a mask. Our practice in camp is to maintain a 6 ft. distance while wearing a mask, although due to the nature of teaching and camp activities, we expect some situations that bring children closer together, with masks on. We also have procedures in place for drop-off, pick-up, and other activities that create an increased risk of transmission. As instructed by the EEC, we are also separating each site into cohorts of up to 10 children, and keeping those groups completely separate.
  3. Cleaning and disinfection is a key safety practice, and we have a robust schedule for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and items in camp that can be touched by multiple people. In addition, we’re reducing the number of shared items by giving each camper a dedicated kit of crafts materials and computer hardware for the duration of the week.
  4. Information is power, and we’re prepared to educate and remind children and staff about best practices in face covering, cleaning, personal hygiene, and other practices via rigorous training and posters and signs at our camp facilities. 
  5. We have procedures in place for responding to suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19, including locations for isolating individuals with symptoms and informing other individuals who may have been put at risk, as well as working with the local Board of Health in their contact tracing process.

 

Responsibilities

All Empow staff have responsibilities related to ensuring safety of our campers and staff. 

In-Person Camp Program Manager (ICPM) / Camp Operator

Responsible for the overall preparation, communication, and ongoing monitoring of safety, including:

  • Evaluate conditions that support individual sessions, sites, and weeks of programs being run or canceled and make decisions jointly with Director of Marketing, and communicate to the relevant teams. 
  • Act as the primary contact for Camp Directors on all questions related to COVID-19. 
  • Ensure that all guidelines and requirements defined by National as a COVID-19 mitigation plan are addressed and monitored
  • Engage other staff and functional groups to ensure compliance with these guidelines across the entire local organization.
  • Ensure safe practices by staff. Identify staff who are at higher risk for complications related to COVID-19 and work with camp administration and camp health staff to determine if these staff members should not work as counselors or have prolonged direct contact with campers. Identify alternative job duties for these staff members, if warranted.
  • Be familiar with: 
    • The most recent version of Massachusetts Minimum Health & Safety Requirements for Camps 
    • Medical matters relating to the novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2
    • Administrative, engineering, and personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols the camp has implemented.
    • Current events as they relate to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
    • Policies and procedures the camp has implemented related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Coordinate with the camp Health Consultant for questions requiring medical expertise
  • Inform relevant local public health authorities of planned camp operations schedule
  • Prepare and distribute documentation to parents/legal guardians of campers to explain rules and guidelines for campers to follow during their time at camp.
  • Notify Local Public Health Authorities in the event of a case of COVID 19 (students or staff), assist with contact tracing and seek guidance in conjunction with the Health Consultant on next steps
  • Notify camper families if and when an exposure occurs (see Communications Plan)
  • Distribute signage provided by Empow National Office and related to COVID-19 safety to camp directors. 

Camp Director, Assistant Camp Director

  • Be familiar with the most recent version of Massachusetts Minimum Health & Safety Requirements for Camps 
  • Act as trained Health Care Supervisor on site
  • Coordinate and perform setup and pack-up of the entire site, including all equipment specified in the COVID-19 Mitigation Plan
  • Coordinate and support all logistics needed during camp operation for COVID-19 safety protocols
  • Coordinate and perform cleaning of all premises
  • Communicate with families about all COVID-19 procedures
  • Perform screenings of campers during drop-off and monitoring throughout the program
  • Perform screenings of staff upon arrival and monitoring throughout the program
  • Supervise campers while teachers are on break, while maintaining distance from the cohort in order to reduce the chances of cross-cohort contamination
  • Prepare cleaning and PPE products for all teachers on site, and anticipate and communicate additional needs to Program Manager/Camp Operator
  • Communicate with Program Manager/Camp Operator regarding any questions and issues related to the site, the cohort, procedures, equipment, and policies.
  • Communicate with Health Consultant as needed for camper-specific issues requiring medical expertise
  • Designate and manage the space for Isolation and Discharge for the camp site, and communicate this to the rest of the team. 

Lead Instructors, Senior Instructors, and Junior Instructors

  • Use cleaning and PPE products according to the guidelines provided by Empow National team
  • Monitor the use of PPE by the campers as prescribed by the guidelines
  • Be vigilant about monitoring own health for symptoms associated with COVID-19. staying home and notify Camp Director immediately if showing any symptoms.
  • Immediately inform Camp Director and Program Manager/Camp Operator of any potential exposure – whether in or outside of the Empow programs
  • Immediately inform Camp Director and Program Manager/Camp Operator of any breaches of protocol that may result is risk of exposure
  • Monitor supply of cleaning and PPE products in the assigned room, and alert Camp Director of any shortages and needs
  • Communicate directly with parents about any immediate needs, requirements, and concerns. Escalate to Camp Director in case any sort of a conflict or concern arises. 

Customer Service Representatives

  • Communicate our policies and procedures to prospective and current customers
  • Update relevant documents and forms in our registration system Ultracamp

Marketing

  • Update relevant information available on our website

Health Consultant

Our Health Consultant is a licensed Registered Nurse.

Facilities

Empow camp locations must meet the following minimum safety requirements in addition to our standard camp facilities checklist.

  • Our target program space for each cohort is at least 462 sq. ft. of open space in order to accommodate 10 children and one staff. Per EEC guidelines, this amount of space will allow participants to stay 6’ apart.  EEC guidelines do not require campers to wear masks when 6’ distance can be observed. Empow requirements go beyond EEC requirements, with ALL participants wearing masks while indoors. This allows Empow to consider smaller rooms as compliant. Empow camps will require 3 or more such rooms, subject to a decision about camp capacity made by the Program Manager with feedback from Facilities partner. Program Manager can decide to reduce the number of campers if spaces available are smaller than ideal.
  • There should be a single point of entry. 
  • There must be a separate space for conducting screenings i.e a side room or enclosed area close to the entry . This space should allow for privacy if possible and physical distancing. Parents and visitors are not allowed to enter the classroom space. 
  • There must be a separate indoor space for isolating campers who are confirmed or suspected of being infected. The space should have a door that can be closed, or at least a barrier.
  • A private or separate bathroom should  be made available if possible for children or staff who become sick
  • If the facility is open and staffed, the facility should provide cleaning and services at the end of each day. In the absence of cleaning service from the facility, Empow will be responsible for all cleaning and sanitizing in accordance with guidelines.
  • In the event of a COVID 19 exposure the site will be closed for 24 hours then cleaned and disinfected. 

Communication

Empow should be in regular contact with campers, parents/legal guardians, staff, and vendors (such as hosting sites). Many of these communications may be time sensitive and may contain confidential health information. In addition, Empow will seek guidance from and work with local health organizations (e.g., town and state Boards of Health) as needed to develop standard communication. This section describes our standard procedures for communication prior to, during, and after camp.  

Preparation

 

Printable Resources

The following posters should be displayed and visible to the staff, parents, and campers, where practical and impactful. Program Manager should ensure that all camp locations have adequate stock of printed posters for sessions throughout the Summer season.

Posters will be provided to camp teams for site setup.

Website

Empow will post a summary of our safety procedures as an FAQ item at https://empow.me/news/covid-19

In addition, the full text of this document will be posted on the website in downloadable format.

Parent Communication

Empow will primarily communicate with parents through email.

Empow will have home, work and mobile phone numbers of the parents so that the program can reach them at any time.  Phone calls will be made when necessary to discuss individual topics.

Prior to camp, Empow will prepare and distribute documentation containing rules and guidelines for campers to follow during their time at camp. Empow staff who are in contact with parents (Customer Service, Teachers, Administrators) should be familiar with answers to frequently asked questions and common misconceptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, be able to identify which campers are at higher risk for complications related to COVID-19, and encourage and support parents in taking additional precautionary measures including consultation with their healthcare provider.

Program Manager, in consultation with Health Consultant, should review camper health records in order to identify individuals at higher risk.

For each child with a chronic medical condition that has been diagnosed by a Physician or nurse practitioner, Staff will consult with the family and then with the Health Care Consultant to discuss potential risks and determine if attendance is advised.

Maintain an Individual Health Care Plan (IHCP) that describes

  • Description of the chronic medical condition 
  • Symptoms
  • Any medical treatment that may be necessary while the child is in care
  • Potential side effects of that treatment
  • Potential consequences to the child’s health if the treatment is not administered. 

Additional best practices for high-risk individuals

  • Recommend parents/legal guardians of higher-risk campers to consult their child’s medical provider to assess their risk and determine if attendance is acceptable.
  • Communicate the importance of keeping campers home if they show any symptoms associated with COVID-19. Share the CDC Symptom Screening List.
  • Inform and seek consent from parents/legal guardians for any health monitoring  permission to use hand sanitizer and take temperature readings if needed.

(Add consent to use sanitizer in UC) 

Camper Communication

During Camp

When campers check in to their camp session, the staff should inform them of the immediate steps they should be taking to create a safe environment:

  • After screening cleanse/sanitize hands and don mask
  • Directing campers’ attention to the informational posters
  • Direct campers to the group they’ve been assigned
  • Provide them with any personal reference handout to help them get oriented.

If possible, limit the amount of available media focused on the COVID-19 pandemic if it may be contributing to anxiety. 

During Check-in and Orientation

Encourage campers to talk about how they are feeling. Tell campers they can ask you any questions and make yourself available to talk and listen. Be calm and reassuring; be careful not only about what you say but how you say it. Be a source of comfort. Listen for underlying fears or concerns. Ask questions to find out what a concerned camper knows about COVID-19. Let campers know that fear is a normal and acceptable reaction. Provide only honest and accurate information. Correct any false information they may have heard. 

Note: Make sure to be considerate with campers when correcting any information. If you do not know the answer to a question, say so. Do not speculate. Find answers by visiting the CDC website, but not in front of the kids and certainly not on a big screen as the information may be overwhelming to some kids.  It is perfectly fine to say “That’s a great question, let me try to find the answer so we can both learn the answer to your question.”

Make sure campers know how the virus can spread and how to prevent it from spreading. Talk about what the camp is doing to protect campers from getting sick. Tell campers that the COVID-19 pandemic is serious, but everyone is doing their part to avoid illness and make things safer for all.. We all have a part to play. 

Speak in age-appropriate language:

  • Early elementary school aged children: Provide brief, simple information that balances COVID-19 facts with appropriate reassurances that adults are there to help keep them healthy and to take care of them if they do get sick. Give simple examples of the steps they make every day to stop germs and stay healthy, such as washing hands. Use language such as “Adults are working hard to keep you safe.”
  • Upper elementary and early middle school aged children: This age group often is more vocal in asking questions about whether they indeed are safe and what will happen if COVID-19 spreads in their area. They may need assistance separating reality from rumor and fantasy. Discuss the efforts national, state, and community leaders are making to prevent germs from spreading and keep people healthy.
  • Upper middle and high school aged children: With this age group, issues can be discussed in more depth. Refer them to appropriate sources of COVID-19 facts. Provide honest, accurate, and factual information about the current status of COVID- 19. 

Reduce stigma, especially against individuals of Asian descent and those who have traveled recently. Direct campers with questions you cannot answer and/or fears you cannot assuage to the Camp Director or another designated support staff member(s) responsible. 

Have follow-up conversations with campers who have asked questions or expressed concerns. 

In Case of a Confirmed or Suspected Case

If you become aware of a confirmed or suspected case:

  1. Refer to the camp’s Communicable Disease Plan (CDP) or applicable childcare standards for full guidance. 
  2. Before any conversation with campers, make sure to consider their age and address fears and concerns appropriately.  
  3. Interview the suspected staff person or the suspected camper’s family member. Gather the information about who at camp may have been exposed (how close were they and for how long, other types of contact). 
  4. Report to the Local Board of Health  and assist with contact tracing per their recommendations 
  5. Interview the family member of a suspected case, gather the information about who at Camp may have been exposed (how close were they and for how long, other types of contact) and report to the Local Board of Health and assist with Contact tracing per their recommendations.
  6. Maintain confidentiality  with campers and families, not providing the name  or any potentially identifying information.  Official contact tracing is responsible for that.In the Event of a Potential Exposure
  • Immediately inform parents/legal guardians of the immediate group which was exposed about any potential contact their children may have had with suspected or confirmed cases.
  • Immediately inform parents/legal guardians if their child(ren) are experiencing any symptoms. 
  • Refer to the camp’s Communicable Disease Plan (CDP) or applicable childcare standards for full guidance.
  • (Add to Communication Plan – Linda to draft) See the Communication Plan document for communicating to parents in the following scenarios:
    • A child is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19
    • A child was identified as having contact with a suspected or confirmed case 
    • There are some cases at camp; there is no reason to believe your child has been in contact with these individuals. 

Staff Communication

Prior to Camp

All Empow staff will be trained on this guide and the relevant policies and procedures and their own responsibilities.

Staff should continually communicate Empow safety procedures to campers, parents, and colleagues in order to ensure compliance. 

Vendor Communication

Empow has a very limited list of vendors connected with the camp program. Key communications are:

  • Updates to local hosts/partners regarding any maintenance, ventilation, access, or space-related issues
  • Any food vendors delivering to the site. If feasible, install a temporary door bell, and post a notice on the front door for delivery persons to call for someone to come down. 

Local Health Officials

ICPM should coordinate with local health officials if there is any need for assistance in the decision-making response to the COVID-19 pandemic with each camp. ICPM should work with each local health board to develop a set of strategies unique to the particular camp, if needed, and inform local health officials on the camp operations scheduled.  ICPM should  monitor student and staff absenteeism and if unexplained or possible relation to COVID 19, request guidance from local Health Officials. Best practice: share camper absenteeism data with local health officials if requested. Notify local health officials of suspected and confirmed cases immediately. Seek guidance to determine whether to dismiss or end camp early if necessary.

Additional Communication Resources

Screening & Preventing COVID-19 Infections

Screening and Monitoring of Children and Staff

Screening Process

During the screening, Camp Director will meet individually with the camper and his/her parent. Siblings can be included in the same meeting. The meetings must be completed fully, and quickly to reduce parents’ wait time. In general, Camp Directors can use the following methods:

  • If parking or a convenient drive-by space is available and the weather permits, Director should set up an outdoor screening station (folding table and chair) and encourage parents to do the drop-off like a drive-through.
  • If screenings must be done inside, the area must be designated in the lobby, away from the program space. Floor should be marked with X spots 6’ apart to indicate waiting spots for families. Maintain privacy as much as possible during the screening.

Daily Screening

We must screen all staff and children before they are permitted to enter the child care space following the requirements below. 

  1. Establish a single point of entry to the program space to ensure that no individual is allowed to enter the building until they successfully pass the screening.  For sites where this is a feasible solution, Program Manager can make a decision to purchase an event tent and implement this as a standard procedure. The procedure will need to be communicated to parents as part of the standard Communication Plan.
  2. Camp Director and Assistant Director should conduct all screening activities and establish a designated screening area (e.g., a side room or enclosed area close to the point of entry) that will allow for more privacy in order to ask questions confidentially and conduct a visual check for obvious signs  of illness. .  The screening area should have either a physical barrier, such as a plexiglass screen, or must allow for social distancing of staff from child/family while screening is being conducted (i.e. at least 6 feet of separation). Screening activities are as follows below.  If any of the below are yes, the child must not be allowed to enter the building. The child must return home with their parent or caregiver.
  3. Staff & Parents must sign an attestation about their symptoms and exposures
  4. Camp staff must conduct a verbal screening
  5. Staff must visually inspect campers for signs of illness
  6. Staff must record all screening data daily.  
  7. Verbal screening questions:
    • In the past 14 days, have you had close contact with a person known to be infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
    • Today or in the past 24 hours, have you or any household members had any of the following symptoms?
      • Fever (temperature of 100.0°F or above), felt feverish, or had chills?
      • Cough?
      • Sore throat?
      • Difficulty breathing?
      • Gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea, nausea, vomiting)?
      • Fatigue?
      • Headache?
      • New loss of smell/taste?
      • New muscle aches?
      • Any other signs of illness?
  8. Screening Staff must make a visual inspection of each child for signs of illness, which could include flushed cheeks, rapid breathing or difficulty breathing (without recent physical activity), fatigue, or extreme fussiness. Confirm that the child is not experiencing coughing or shortness of breath. In the event a child is experiencing shortness of breath or extreme difficulty breathing, call emergency medical services immediately.
  9. Self-screening shall include checking temperature (temperature of 100.0°F or above is considered a fever), and checking for symptoms included fever, cough, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal symptoms, abdominal pain, unexplained rash, new loss of taste/smell, muscle aches, or any other symptoms that feel like a cold. Anyone with a fever of 100.0°F or above or any other signs of illness must not be permitted to enter the program.
  10. Parents and staff must sign written attestations daily regarding any household contacts with COVID-19, symptoms (e.g., fever, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, loss of smell or taste, or diarrhea), or if they have given children medicine to lower a fever.
    • Individuals who decline to complete the screening questionnaire or have temperature checked will not be permitted to enter the program space.

Regular Monitoring

Staff must actively monitor children throughout the day for symptoms of any kind, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, abdominal pain, and unexplained rash. Children who appear ill or are exhibiting signs of illness must be separated from the larger group and isolated until able to leave the facility. Programs must have a non-contact or temporal thermometer on site to check temperatures if a child is suspected of having a fever (temperature above 100°F). Special care must be taken to disinfect the thermometer after each use.

If any child or staff appears to have severe symptoms, call emergency services immediately. Before transferring to a medical facility, notify the transfer team and medical facility if the individual is suspected to have COVID-19. Severe symptoms include the following: extreme difficulty breathing (i.e. not being able to speak without gasping for air), bluish lips or face, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, severe persistent dizziness or lightheadedness, new confusion or inability to rouse someone, or new seizure or seizures that won’t stop. 

Physical Distancing

There are certain explicit requirements stated by the EEC that we must comply with as a group with respect to distancing. These are simple:

  • Everyone should stay 6’ apart
  • If you can’t stay 6’ apart, you must wear a mask.

Empow policy is to have everyone wear a mask at all times. With the mast, coming closer than 6’ apart is compliant with requirements. However, staff should view distancing as a continuum of risk, i.e. each instance of proximity adds an incremental amount of risk of exposure. We can no more bring the risk to zero than we can eliminate the risk of car accidents. Our goal, as with the use of car seatbelts,  is to minimize the risk while also providing a camp experience that is enjoyable.

Separating Cohorts

  • Each site will be split into “Cohorts” or no more than 10 campers and 2 staff. Each team will be assigned a Lead Instructor. Team names and assigned instructor names will be communicated to parents prior to camp. 
  • At check-in, parents will be directed to check in only with their team’s instructor by either forming separate lines, or through the use of a staggered check-in schedule in order to prevent interaction between cohorts/groups. The choice of approach is to be determined by the Program Manager depending on staffing and configuration of each site.
    • If forming more than one line, lines have to be more than 6’ apart, and there should be markings on the ground to guide families to keep their distance.
    • If staggering the schedule, each cohort should be given arrival times that are staggered by 20 minutes.
  • Staff will try to keep campers from different teams separate at all times during camp, including lunch breaks and extended day.
  • All camp equipment will be dedicated to a team, with no shared use between teams. If there does arise a need to transfer a piece of equipment or a resource, it will be sanitized by a staff member before being transferred. 
  • If two groups are sharing a large space, there will be a physical partition created between the groups. The partition should create a physical barrier preventing the groups from coming close, such as a line of tables.
  • Lunch/snack bags brought in by campers must be stored within the team’s room and not touching other campers belongings. 
  • Groups will not be combined at any time.

The concept of Cohorts includes a group of campers and staff who are at risk of transmitting COVID-19 virus. While the regulations do not specifically state this, the spirit of the regulation clearly implies that in our camp practice, half-day campers and extended-day campers should be considered part of the same cohort, i.e. that a cohort is a group of campers using the same space and being taught by the same instructor, even if not at the same time. This cohort has to have 10 students or less. The Program Teams must make a determination of how to best adapt to this constraint.  Program Team can use this dashboard to make decisions.

Maintaining cohorts is an important component of COVID-19 safety. However, campers’ physical and immediate safety is a continuing and critical priority. Whenever there is a conflict between the need to reduce cross-cohort interaction, and the need to provide adequate supervision and safety, the need for supervision and physical safety always takes priority. Some examples are:

  • A camper needs to be separated from the group for behavioral reasons. If the Instructor needs help doing this, Director should take action to work through the RTP process with the camper while the Instructor continues to work with the rest of the group.
  • An instructor calls in sick last minute. The Director can step in to work with the Instructor’s cohort until the substitute instructor arrives.

Individual Distancing

Staff should be constantly monitoring the distance between campers to ensure that there is no prolonged periods of distance less than 6’. This especially applies to:

  • Group circle-ups – these should be done from the campers’ assigned seats or an alternate arrangement that provides adequate distance
  • Lunch and breaks
  • Tech demos
  • Outdoor activities

While it is impossible to provide individual instruction while maintaining the distance, staff should also look for ways to minimize this time by using their own screen or projector, or using the whiteboard if available.  

Program Space

Camper seats will be arranged at least 6 feet apart from each other. The size and shape of the room will determine the number of campers allowed in the room as follows:

  • A minimum of 42 sq. ft. of open floor space per camper is required 
  • A minimum of 6’ distance between seats is required

See an example of a space below that meets the total space requirement, but is limited to 8 campers because of the 6’ distance required.

Because of the requirement to wear masks at all times, campers and staff are not required to stay 6’ apart 100% of the time. For example, instructors can get close to campers while assisting them, and campers can pass closer than 6’ to each other while moving around the room.

Unless there is ample space, campers should try to keep all their work at their desk and avoid setting up separate areas as those will make distancing more difficult for the group.  Working areas, such as stop-motion animation area, will be positioned at least 6 feet away from the nearest camper seat.

Staffing Rules

Camps should be staffed with:

  • 1 Lead instructor for every cohort of campers up to 10
  • 1 Director per site
  • Total of two Health Care Supervisors (Director and one Instructor)
  • Adequate subbing staff available on call to ensure that our camps do not drop below the required 10:1 ratio in the event of sick calls by two staff on the same day
  • Adequate staff to ensure that Instructors can have the time to clean, take breaks, and respond to parent communications if needed.

Staff should not be “floating” from group to group during the course of the session for instructional purposes. When there is a need for supervision due to the cohort teacher having to leave their assigned group of campers (e.g. staff breaks, emergencies, bathroom, “breakout” conversations with individual campers or parents), Site Director will be available to supervise campers. When supervising, Director should stay as far as possible away from the campers in the cohort, for example, staying at or just outside the doorway while campers are engaged in minecraft play or other activity.

Staff members will maintain proper distance during staff meetings. 

Parent interaction

Parents and other visitors are not allowed to enter the program space. Camp Directors will designate a space near the entrance of the building, for check-in and screening, which requires parents’ presence, without allowing access to the program space. Empow staff will enforce this protocol with all parents without exception. If the weather allows, it is better practice to conduct screenings outside.

Outdoor conversations may be conducted without a mask if all parties are at least 6 feet apart; however, wearing a mask is still considered a best practice.

Air circulation

If practical, windows should be open to allow air circulation. Depending on the space, Program Manager may decide that the space requires additional mobile cooling or air filtering units, which Empow will provide.

Other Protocols

All campers and staff must be residents of Massachusetts.

Hand Hygiene

When to wash or disinfect hands

  • Wash hands after after screening and before entering the program space / classroom
  • Before eating food (e.g., when entering the dining area)
  • After being in contact with someone who may have been sick
  • After touching frequently touched surface (railings, doorknobs, counters, etc.)
  • After using the restroom
  • After using common items, such as sports equipment, shared computer keyboards and mice, craft supplies, etc. 
  • After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
  • For staff before and after changing gloves

How to wash hands

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water. Turn off the tap and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by running them together with the soap. Make sure to lather the back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. 
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.)
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water. 
  5. Dry your hands using a  an individual paper towel You may use paper towels to turn off the faucet and/or open doors of the bathrooms.

Handwashing Misconceptions

  • Water temperature is not important. Clean cold and warm water work equally well.
  • Antibacterial soap is not more effective than regular soap.
  • Bar soap and liquid soap are equally effective.
  • Soap and water are more effective than alcohol-based hand sanitizer if hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
  • If water is available but soap and hand sanitizer are not, rubbing your hands together under water and drying them off with a clean towel or letting them air dry can remove some germs. Only use this method as a last resort.

How to Use Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizers should contain greater than 60% ethanol or greater than 70% isopropanol. Hand sanitizers are not a substitute for handwashing for kitchen and dining staff.

  1. Apply the product to the palm of one hand.
  2. Rub your hands together. Make sure the product contacts the back of your hands, palms, between your fingers, and fingertips. 
  3. Continue to rub your hands together until your hands are dry (about 20 seconds). 

Isolation and Discharge of Sick Children & Staff

Planning for Isolation and Discharge

Programs must take the following actions to prepare for a potential exposure.

  • Designate a separate space to isolate children or staff who may become sick, with the door closed (or a solid barrier) if possible. Isolated children must be supervised at all times. A private or separate bathroom must be made available for use by sick individuals only. Others must not enter isolation room/space without PPE appropriate to the care setting. A location with an open window and/or good air circulation is optimal. In family child care settings with one adult, staff should isolate children who may become sick using a barrier to maintain adequate supervision of all children.
  • If your facility does not have designated isolation rooms/spaces, determine a pre-specified location/facility to which you will be sending patients presenting with COVID-19 symptoms. 
  • Have an emergency back-up plan for staff coverage in case a child or staff becomes sick.
  • Know the contact information for the local board of health in the city or town in which the program is located.
  • Have masks or other cloth face coverings available for use by children and staff who become symptomatic, until they have left the premises of the program.
  • Designate a separate exit from the exit used to regularly exit for those being discharged due to suspected infection.

If a Child Becomes Symptomatic

If a child becomes symptomatic, programs must follow the protocols below:

  1. Immediately isolate from other children and minimize exposure to staff.
  2. Cover child’s  nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face covering.  Staff should wear a mask and gloves, consider wearing a face shield and PPE gown. 
  3. Contact the child’s parents and send home as soon as possible.
  4. Follow the program’s plan for the transportation of a child who has developed symptoms and who relies on program transportation.

If a Staff Becomes Symptomatic

If a staff member becomes symptomatic, they must cease child care duties immediately and be removed from others until they can leave. Staff must regularly self-monitor during the day to screen for new symptoms. If new symptoms are detected among a staff member, follow the requirements above in Section 5A-B on how to handle symptomatic individuals.

If a Child or Staff Contracts COVID-19

Sick children or employees who are COVID-19 positive or symptomatic and presumed to have COVID-19 must not return until they have met the criteria for discontinuing home isolation and have consulted with a health care provider. Determine the date of symptom onset for the child/staff. Determine if the child/staff attended/worked at the program while symptomatic or during the two days before symptoms began. Identify what days the child/staff attended/worked during that time. Determine who had close contact with the child/staff at the program during those days (staff and other children). 

If the individual tests positive for COVID-19 but is asymptomatic, isolation may be discontinued when at least 10 days have passed from the date of the positive test, as long as the individual remains asymptomatic. For example, if the individual was tested on April 1, isolation may be discontinued on or after April 11.

Notifying Required Parties

In the event that a program experiences an exposure, programs must notify the following parties.

  • First notify Local Board of Health and follow their advice.
  • Employees and families about exposure but maintain confidentiality.

Self-Isolating Following Exposure or Potential Exposure

In the event that a staff member or child is exposed to a sick or symptomatic person, the following protocols must be followed.

  1. If a child or staff has been exposed to COVID-19, regardless of whether the individual has symptoms or not, the child or staff must not be permitted to enter the program space and must be sent home. Exposed individuals must be directed to stay home for at least 14 days after the last day of contact with the person who is sick. The program must consult the local board of health for guidance on quarantine for other children and staff and what additional precautions will be needed to ensure the program space is safe for continued child care services.
  2. If an exposed child or staff subsequently tests positive or their doctor says they have confirmed or probable COVID-19, they must be directed to stay home for a minimum of 10 days from the 1st day of symptoms appearing AND be fever-free for 72 hours without fever reducing medications AND experience significant improvements in symptoms. Release from isolation is under the jurisdiction of the local board of health where the individual resides.
  3. If a child’s or staff’s household member tests positive for COVID-19, the child or staff must self-quarantine for 14 days after the last time they could have been exposed.

If an Exposed Child or Staff Remains Asymptomatic and/or Tests Negative for COVID-19: they must remain in quarantine and continue to monitor for the full 14 days.

Contact Tracing

Assessing and informing those with potential exposure is a fundamental control strategy for minimizing spread within a group or camp population. CDC defines close contact as interactions within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes. 

Contact tracing should be carried out by trained staff (e.g., public health staff, community health workers, trained volunteers) in conjunction with the local health department. 

It is Camp Director’s responsibility to report known and suspected cases to the local Board of Health and provide all the necessary information is needed for the BOH to conduct contact tracing.

Cleaning & Disinfection

To minimize transfer of coronavirus at camp, cleaning methods can be employed to reduce risk to campers and camp staff. EEC recommends disinfectant as the preferred method when materials are available. If materials are not available, a dilute bleach solution can be substituted for disinfectants. Avoid use of disinfectants on objects that may go in the mouth. Avoid the use of aerosol-based agents. See “Cleaning Solution Selection and Preparation” below for more detail on cleaning products.

Cleaning Schedule

The following surfaces must be cleaned or sanitized twice a day: once mid-day between the half-day groups, and once at the end of the day after campers depart:

  • High-touch surfaces
  • Toilets, sinks
  • Individual Laptops, headphones, mice
  • Shared hardware (audio, webcams, etc)
  • Snack/lunch area
  • Crafts materials
  • Furniture

In addition:

  • ALL shared equipment and materials, such as keyboards, webcams, arts and crafts tools like scissors and markers, and other shared items must be cleaned or sanitized after each use.
  • High-touch surfaces should be cleaned after major transitions of the entire group, such as snacks, outdoor breaks, water breaks, etc. High-touch surfaces include: Doorknobs and door handles, drinking fountain handles, shared phones, bathroom faucets, handrails, ipads, tabletops. 

If practical, it is considered Best Practice to clean high-touch surfaces between users.

Consumable materials should never be reused, including playdough, construction paper, and other materials. Each child should receive a package of paper, scotch and masking tape, tape, pencils, markers, scissors, erasers, and other crafts materials that is their own for the week. These materials should be washed or disinfected at the end of the week. Staff should apply the most practical cleaning method depending on the item.

Cleaning Methods

Cleaning Solution Selection and Preparation

For cleaning, general purpose residential cleaners that are ready to use or diluted with water per product instructions are sufficient and should be used according to manufacturer’s instructions. 

For disinfection, products that are specific to coronavirus, that have an “emerging viral pathogen” claim, and that require less than one minute of contact time are preferred. If disinfecting products are not available, a dilute bleach solution can be used, comprising four teaspoons of bleach to a quart of water.

NOTE: Many of the products on the EPA list contain either quaternary ammonium or sodium hypochlorite ( also known as bleach). Cleaning products containing these two ingredients should not be used together or even in series, meaning one after the other. Disinfectant products should be kept out of reach of children and used according to the guidelines provided by the manufacturer. 

Prepare Detergent Spray Solution

Cleaning solutions should not be prepared when children are in attendance.

  1. Any staff member preparing spray bottles with detergent must wear eye protection/goggles and gloves. 
  2. Using the manufacturer’s instructions, fill spray bottle with the appropriate amount of detergent solution and water, if the manufacturer recommends dilution. A funnel (not to be used for consumables) can be used to reduce spills and splashing. 
  3. Replace the spray cap and label the detergent bottle with the contents using a permanent marker. 
  4. The detergent manufacturer’s instructions must be provided to all staff carrying out cleaning activities, and applicable Safety Data Sheets must be kept on file.  

Prepare Disinfectant Spray Solution

  1. Any staff member preparing spray bottles with disinfectant must wear eye protection/goggles and gloves and follow manufacturer’s instructions.  
  2. Using the manufacturer’s instructions, fill spray bottle with the appropriate amount of disinfectant solution and water, if the manufacturer recommends dilution. A funnel (not to be used for consumables) can be used to reduce spills and splashing.  
  3. A dilute bleach (sodium hypochlorite) solution can be used by adding 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. 
  4. Replace the spray cap and label the disinfectant bottle with the contents using a permanent marker. 
  5. The disinfectant manufacturer’s instructions must be provided to all staff carrying out cleaning activities, and applicable Safety Data Sheets must be kept on file. 

Typical Cleaning for Non-Porous Surfaces

  1. Cleaning staff should wear eye protection and disposable gloves. 
  2. Using a detergent cleaning solution, spray 6 to 8 inches from the non-porous surface and wipe with clean paper towels (or according to manufacturer’s instructions) to remove visible contamination, if present.
  3. Make sure the surface is dry before applying disinfectant. 
  4. Review the instructions provided by the disinfectant manufacturer to note the concentration, application method, and necessary contact time. This will vary by product and type of cleaning activity.
  5. Allow the disinfectant to remain on the surface for the instructed time and wipe with paper towels.  
  6. After a cleaning task is complete, remove the gown followed by the gloves and dispose, as discussed in the “PPE for Cleaning Staff” section above. Carefully wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water as described in the PPE section. Hand sanitizer may be used if water is not available and no visible dirt is observed on hands.  
  7. Reusable aprons or work clothing may be used, if laundered or washed after use.

Typical Cleaning for Porous Surfaces

CDC recommends removing or limiting use of soft and porous materials, such as area rugs and couches, as they are more difficult to clean and disinfect. 

At this time few products for use on porous surfaces are EPA approved. Products identified contain the active ingredients quaternary ammonium and hydrogen peroxide, both of which should be used carefully by trained staff. In addition, some products’ manufacturer’s instructions note that they are not approved for use in California.  

  1. Eye protection and gloves should be worn during cleaning activities.  
  2. First remove visible contamination, if present, and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on porous surfaces.  
  3. Launder items, if applicable, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and then dry items completely. See Laundry Section below. 
  4. Otherwise, use disinfectant products suitable for porous surfaces. 

NOTE: If some porous surfaces are not suitable for cleaning with disinfectants, then clean them as much as possible and attach a sign to them saying they are not to be used or touched for three days. 

Cleaning Protocol If There Is A Confirmed Or Probable Case

WHAT TO DO IF THERE IS A CONFIRMED OR PROBABLE CASE OF COVID-19 If more than 7 days have passed since the person who is sick visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary. Continue routine cleaning and disinfection. If less than 7 days, close off areas that were used by the person who is sick and carry out the following:

  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the areas, if possible. 
  • Wait up to 24 hours or as long as practical before you clean or disinfect the space to allow respiratory droplets to settle before cleaning and disinfecting. Outdoor venues and equipment could be cleaned without delay.
  • Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person who is sick. Run ventilation system during cleaning.
  • Use dedicated cleaning and disinfecting materials to disinfect a potential source area (e.g., an infected camper’s cabin or bunk area). The cleaning equipment should not be used to clean other areas until they are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
  • Enhanced cleaning is recommended if it is determined that a person with COVID-19 was present in a building (e.g., dining hall, gym, bunk, etc.) or at camp activity areas for at least 15 minutes. 

For a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case, the following enhanced cleaning protocol should be followed:

  • First clean visibly dirty surfaces then perform disinfection. For specific cleaning instructions see sections above: “ Typical Cleaning for Non-Porous Surfaces” and “Typical Cleaning for Porous Surfaces.” NOTE: Products that are specific to coronavirus, have an “emerging viral pathogen” claim, and require less than 1 minute of contact time are preferred. Make sure products have not passed their expiration date.  
  • Use disposable wipes/paper towels to clean surfaces if possible, rather than reusable cloth wipes, as the latter can re-contaminate surfaces. All cleaning and disinfecting materials (e.g., paper towels, cloth wipers, sponges, mop heads, etc.) should be disposed in sealed bags or containers after use.
  • In each area, pay particular attention to high touch areas, including, but not limited to, handrails, door handles, cabinet and drawer handles, shared sports equipment or craft tools. 
  • Clean and disinfect an area extending 12 feet in all directions around the seating area, focusing on all horizontal surfaces and high touch objects. Clean and disinfect areas identified as locations visited by the individual who is sick or that the individual used or occupied, including the entire bathroom and any common or activities areas. These include high touch objects in common areas including handrails, exterior door entry handles, cabinet handles, and restroom door handles, as well as crafting tools or sports equipment. 
  • Use dedicated cleaning and disinfecting materials to disinfect a potential source area. These materials should not be used to clean other areas until they are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. •Clean a potential source area by progressing from the entrance to the most distant point to avoid re-contaminating surfaces that have been disinfected (i.e., clean your way out). 
  • Clean soft and porous surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes also using the procedure noted above for porous surfaces. NOTE: If some porous surfaces are not suitable for cleaning with disinfectants, then clean them as much as possible and attach a sign to them saying they are not to be used or touched for three days. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Cleaning staff should wear eye protection, disposable gloves, facemask, and gowns/aprons for all tasks in the enhanced cleaning process, including handling trash. 
  • Gloves and gowns/aprons should be compatible with the disinfectant products being used.
  • Facemask should be disposable and used for enhanced cleaning only.
  • Additional PPE might be required based on the cleaning/disinfectant products being used and whether there is a risk of splash, for example a face shield. 
  • Gloves and gowns/aprons should be removed carefully to avoid contamination of the wearer and the surrounding area. Be sure to clean hands after removing gloves.
  • Gloves should be removed after cleaning a room or area occupied by ill persons. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.
  • Cleaning staff should immediately report breaches in PPE (e.g., tear in gloves) or any potential exposures to their supervisor.
  • Cleaning staff and others should clean hands often, including immediately after removing gloves and after contact with an ill person, by washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%-95% alcohol may be used. However, if hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap and water.

Cleaning of Keyboards, Laptops and Electronic Equipment

  • Follow manufacturer guidelines for cleaning electronic equipment.
  • Use of covers that can be cleaned and disinfected are recommended.
  • Alcohol based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol can be used to disinfect electronics, including touch screens.

Playground Equipment

  • Communal playground equipment should not be used. 

Testing

Empow teams will follow the “Good practice (minimum)”: Use of EPA approved cleaning and disinfecting products; CDC recommended cleaning protocols; and maintenance of cleaning and supply records to ensure proper cleaning activities have been carried out.

Personal Protective Equipment

Terminology and Definitions

Eye Protection: goggles, safety glasses, and reusable, or disposable face shields that fully cover the front and sides of the ocular region of the face to protect part of a wearer’s face from contact with a substance.

Face Mask: a device worn over a wearer’s mouth and nose that creates a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment. Note that in general a face mask does not provide substantial filtering efficiency or protection to the wearer during inhalation but rather helps arrest droplet dispersion from the wearer when coughing, sneezing, talking, and breathing. Face masks are not considered PPE for protection from coronavirus. Examples: Cloth masks, surgical masks, bandanas, etc. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated,or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): specific equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that may cause illness or injury. PPE relevant to camps during the COVID-19 pandemic include face coverings, eye protection, N95 respirators, disposable gloves, and disposable gowns.

Respirator: a device worn over a wearer’s mouth and nose,which when properly fitted,protects from inhalation of specific hazards (gases, vapors, and particulate matter). Example: N95 Respirators. Note: all respirators are not designed to filter all hazards. Understanding the particular hazards the respirator is designed to protect against is the responsibility of those that provide the respirators to wearers, as well as the wearer themselves.

PPE Protocols

Face Masks and Coverings

Massachusetts state requirements are: “Programs must encourage the wearing of masks or cloth face coverings during the program day. Whenever 6 feet of physical distancing is not possible, masks must be worn.Empow policy goes a step further than that, and requires that all participants of the program wear face masks at all times, including both indoors and outdoors. Empow will provide the face covering for staff and extra disposable face masks for all staff and campers as needed. 

During the normal course of the day, staff and campers should wear face masks covering mouth and nose while indoors. In addition:

  1. Custodial staff should always wear face masks when cleaning and disinfecting. Refer to the Cleaning and Disinfection section.
  2. Staff should wear cloth masks when interacting with outside vendors or outside community members when physical distancing can’t be maintained.
  3. Staff are required to wear a cloth face covering while serving children and interacting with parents and families while indoors. 
  4. All children are required to wear face masks at all times while in the program, except when eating. During meals, a strict 6’ or more distancing should be maintained.  
  5. When not wearing masks during meals, campers and staff should always have masks with them and accessible at all times.
  6. Masks should not be worn while eating or drinking. Strict and consistent physical distancing must be practiced at all times during these activities. 

Families should provide their children with a sufficient supply of clean masks and face coverings for their child to allow replacing the covering as needed. Families must have a plan for routine cleaning of masks and face coverings (at least daily), clearly mark masks with child’s name, and the children should be able to clearly distinguish which side of the covering should be worn facing outwards so they are worn properly each day. If families are unable to provide masks, Empow will provide a disposable mask for the child for each day’s use. 

While parents and visitors are not allowed to enter program space, parents and guardians must wear masks when they are inside the building the program is in. Families and staff are encouraged to adhere to the CDC’s recommendations for wearing a mask or cloth face covering whenever going out in public and/or around other people.

In addition, we recommend that staff wear goggles or face shields as additional protection for themselves and by extension  any persons you’re in contact with outside of Empow. Empow does not require the wearing of goggles or shields, but we will provide adequate quantities of this PPE for any staff member to make this choice.  

Note on N95 respirators: N95 respirators are certainly more effective at filtering pathogens when compared side by side with cloth face masks. However, CDC does not recommend widespread use of N95 respirators for the general public. These respirators require special training and fitness testing and can make the person wearing it hypoventilate. In addition, due to supply issues, CDC recommends prioritizing these masks for medical uses. Empow will not be providing N95 respirators to its staff. 

Exceptions to Use of Face Masks/Coverings

State guidelines allow for some exceptions to wearing face masks for individuals who cannot safely wear a mask. However, due to Empow’s policy of masks on for everyone, we will not be able to accept campers who cannot wear a mask.

Empow reserves the right to remove individuals who repeatedly do not wear a mask. 

When to Use Gloves

Program staff must wear gloves when appropriate and at all times during Screening activities requiring contact. Handwashing or use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after these procedures is always required, whether or not gloves are used. 

Disposable gloves should be worn by counselors when anticipating contact with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases or when handling belongings known to have been in contact with confirmed or suspected cases. Counselors should wear gloves when handling any incoming belongings or equipment prior to disinfection.

Additional Guidance on Using Gloves

To reduce cross-contamination, disposable gloves should always be discarded after the following instances. After removing gloves for any reason, hand hygiene should be performed with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water.

  • Visible soiling or contamination with blood, respiratory or nasal secretions, or other body fluids occurs.
  • Any signs of damage (e.g., holes, rips, tearing) or degradation are observed.
  • Maximum of four hours of continuous use.
  • Removing gloves for any reason. Previously removed gloves should not be re-donned as the risk of tearing and contamination increases. Therefore, disposable glove “re-use” should not be performed.
  • In addition, gloves should be removed following activities where glove usage is required including diapering, food preparation, and screening activities requiring contact.

 

Training

  • Ensure that all staff (counselors, health staff, kitchen/dining staff, etc.) have been trained to correctly don, doff, maintain,and dispose of PPE and face masks relevant to their respective level of protection.
  • Train staff on hand hygiene after removing gloves. See Hand washing within the Preventing Spread section.
  • Best practice: Provide both initial and refresher training on the different types of PPE that are needed for specific tasks and the reasons they are necessary; this will lead to more effective use and conservation of PPE.

How to Use PPE

Procedures on donning (putting on) and doffing (taking off) PPE may vary depending on what pieces of equipment are to be used, in which settings, and for what purpose. Detailed training should be provided to staff in the use of respirators, face masks, gloves, eye protection, and disposable gowns, based on materials provided in ACA Guidelines

Supplies List

A separate supplies and materials list will be provided to each Camp Director. At a minimum, each camp will have the following supplies (not a complete list)

Cleaning and disinfecting

  • Bleach, concentrated, for dilution
  • Disinfecting wipes 
  • Empty spray bottles for diluted bleach solution
  • Funnel for diluting bleach
  • Bucket with a pour spout for mixing bleach
  • Measuring cup for mixing bleach
  • Paper towels
  • Disinfectant hand gel, personal size
  • Disinfectant hand gel automatic touchless dispenser for common space and classrooms, with refills

Personal Protective Equipment

  • Non-contact thermometer
  • Gown (for isolation space if needed)
  • Face masks for staff, washable
  • Face masks for campers/staff, disposable
  • Goggles/clear glasses for staff
  • Face shields for staff
  • Gloves

Other

  • Wireless doorbell for deliveries and visitors
  • Screening area table, folding, 6 ft
  • Screening area chairs, folding
  • Screening area outside folding 10×10 tent
  • Poster – what you should know about COVID-19
  • Poster – washing hands
  • Poster – distancing
  • Poster – cough etiquette
  • Orange cones to direct people outside
  • Air filter/circulator for spaces with limited circulation
  • Pack painter’s tape for marking boundaries
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