In a harbinger of things to come for later summer and fall, numerous summer camps across the country have closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks. The latest and largest camp outbreak? Missouri-based Kanakuk Kamps, where 82 people, including students, counselors, and staff members tested positive for the virus.
“The decision to close has resulted in all campers, counselors, and staff to return to their homes. SCHD will be working closely with Kanakuk Kamps to identify exposed individuals and quarantine those individuals, as necessary,” the Stone County Health Department stated in the message.
Camps Close Across the Country
While the Missouri Kanaka Kamps closure might be the largest summer camp outbreak, they are happening elsewhere.
In Mount Ada, Arkansas, Camp Ozark closed after discovering an unreleased number of positive Covid cases.
“Camp Ozark shared the information that they had on out-of-state campers and a counselor. They took action. They initially sent campers home and some counselors home, and then, as they had additional cases, they made the decision on their own to go ahead and close down for now,” Dr. Nate Smith, Arkansas cabinet secretary for the Department of Health told CNN.
Yet another closure in Colorado’s El Paso County occurred at the Eagle Lake Overnight Camp. Campers were not yet present when four out of 150 staff members ended up with COVID-19. In addition to the four confirmed cases, there were seven probable cases and 40 additional people exposed.
And, in Tennessee, a pre-opening outbreak at Deer Run Camps and Retreats kept it from opening at all. During staff training in late May, two staff members found out they had been in contact with persons who tested positive for COVID-19. The camp’s senior director ended up hospitalized. All staff members were tested for the virus and 32 were positive.
Concerned parents are taking note of the disease risk. Violet (not her real name), a Los Angeles-based parent and teacher is steering clear of the camps. “It never crossed my mind to send my son, who’s 13, to day camp, even though he’s gone every year since he’s been in preschool. It’s impossible to social distance kids. Many camps are requiring adults to wear masks but not the children. All of this is a perfect storm,” Violet tells Parentology.
Camp Closures Don’t Bode Well for Schools Reopening
President Trump and pediatricians are pushing for kids to return to school this fall. But if summer camps can’t reopen without contagion, reopening schools poses even bigger disease risks. Some states, like New York, are refusing to completely reopen schools even though its disease rates are falling.
Violet, a teacher in the LAUSD system, speaks from a place of educational experience. She thinks the risks are too high.
“In terms of the fall, I don’t see how we can safely go back into the classroom. And by ‘we,’ I’m not just talking about the students. I’m talking about the ‘we’ no one seems to be discussing: administrators and staff,” Violet explains. And without teachers and staff, there is no school to be had.
Another issue: how good can the education be with a split online/in-person classroom?
“How can teachers toggle between in-classroom curriculum and meaningful online curriculum? They can’t. And neither can their students. The two are as different as day and night, and require two completely different skill sets for both,” Violet says.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that a decision on reopening California schools this fall will be made by local education and health officials weighing the state of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the moment, California is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases.