News & Opinion | July 21, 2020 7:00 am

COVID-19 Summer Camp Closures Are a Bad Sign for Reopening Schools

"They did everything right," said one mom. Still, things went wrong.

lifeguard sitting on a stand overlooking a lake
Some camps reopened this summer, but their safety precautions weren't always enough.
Autumn Mott Rodeheaver/Unsplash

Across the U.S., states are reacting to COVID-19 in different ways; some are opting for a cautious approach, while others are attempting to continue business as usual — sometimes with alarming results. The summer season brings with it another way that a state-by-state response to a global crisis is panning out. Namely, how it’s affected the nation’s summer camps, several of which have opened up to campers.

Writing at Bloomberg, Rachel Adams-Heard explores the issues facing camp operators, campers and their parents. Across the country, at least 191 campers and camp staff have tested positive for COVID-19 since camp sessions began. As Adams-Heard observes, that’s alarming enough on its own, but it also establishes a worrying precedent for the challenges facing schools slated to open in the fall.

The experience of Hannah Lebovits, an assistant professor in Texas who sent her two children to camp,  encapsulates the issues that the industry faces. The camp took numerous precautions against the coronavirus. Even so, by the second week it was in operation, multiple campers and counselors tested positive for COVID-19. And that, according to the article, was in spite of measures taken like these:

Children were kept in pods to limit their exposure. Temperature checks were required. Drop-off was outside, and parents were kept from entering the building. Lebovits, who had enrolled her kids in school for the fall, said the experience has changed her mind on just how feasible in-person instruction will be.

This, in turn, led the camp to shut down for the summer. As Lebovits told Bloomberg, “They did everything right.” It’s a worrying indicator of just how difficult the pandemic is to contain — and how it will continue to pose a challenge for parents and children in the months to come.

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