summer camp

Building Off the Success of Summer Camp Amid the Pandemic

There were no reported cases at West Suburban YMCA's two camps this summer, officials said

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A YMCA camp in Massachusetts says they have kept children safe from COVID-19 and now they have advice for schools that are bringing students back to the classroom this fall.

"We probably had 300 children a day," said Kimberly Benzan, CEO of the West Suburban YMCA.

Benzan said there were no reports of cases of COVID-19 within the camp all summer.

"None that we're aware of," Benzan said.

The YMCA West Suburban held two day camps — one in Wayland and the other in Newton. Both had strict COVID protocols in place, officials at the camp said.

"The kids were fantastic,: Benzan said. "They adapted so quickly and they all wore their masks throughout the summer and that was critical."

With health screenings in place at the camp, masks were mandatory for all and there was frequent hand washing. Kids also stayed in their groups. That formula, Benzan said, seems to have kept the virus away.

"The things in our control, we were absolutely vigilant," Benzan said.

Being outside helped too, officials said. It's why experts stress that schools need to vigilant as they plan to welcome students back indoors.

"I think being outside is great, of course, that's not going to work in New England," said Dr. Jonathan Snider of Newton Wellesley Medical Group.

Snider said masks should be mandatory, there should be COVID screenings and high touch surfaces should be cleaned often. And he stresses that it all starts at home.

"We really have to be relying on parents and the children and the students to really not hide any symptoms and not put people at risk," Snider said.

Benzan said her advice for schools putting together COVID protocols is simple.

"I would just be consistent," she said. "You have to make sure you have all of your protocol in place prior to their arrival."

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