Update on Georgia Childcare and Camping Programs
Governor Kemp has issued a new executive order (the Order) that extends the state’s social distancing and other protocols to mitigate spread of the coronavirus through May 31, 2020, changes some rules for childcare programs, and sets out specific rules for summer camps. The highlights of the new rules for childcare and camps are:
Childcare Centers: Childcare centers now can have 20 people (students and staff) within a single classroom, subject to licensing ratios. The other previous rules remain the same. This new limit applies only to centers under the jurisdiction of the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL). Other childcare groups must follow the old limit of 10 people per room.
Summer Camps: One important provision is that, if the CDC issues guidance for camps, those provisions will override any conflicting rules in the executive order. Absent any overriding CDC guidance, please make note of the provisions below.
Overnight Camps: Overnight camps cannot open until the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) allows them to open. Once the DPH allows camps to open, the governor’s order requires several measures in addition to the day camp rules explained below:
- Screening. Camps must screen workers and campers every morning and evening. Anyone with specified symptoms must leave the camp.
- Workers must clean and sanitize the rooms once a day.
- Workers must sanitize bunks and mattresses once per week and before and after use by a new camper.
- Limit of 20. Each bunk room can have only 20 people per room, including adults and campers.
- Bunk Arrangement. To the extent possible, arrange beds to be six feet apart and in foot-to-foot arrangement.
- To the extent practicable, camps must have an RN or LPN on site at all times that campers are present.
Day Camps: Day camps can open now, but they have a list of 32 measures that they must implement. DECAL has created a checklist for these measures that all camps may find helpful. Some highlights of the rules are:
- Limit of 20. Camps must limit groups to 20 campers and workers, unless they can maintain at least six feet of distance between all persons present in the area.
- Signs. Post signs at the entrance instructing campers that they cannot enter if they have been diagnosed with, show symptoms of, or had contact within the past 14 days with someone suspected to have the virus. Camps also must post signs throughout the facility to remind campers of sanitation and social distancing requirements.
- Camps must screen campers and workers and prevent them from entering if they show specified symptoms of the virus. If anyone demonstrates symptoms during the day, camps must separate them in a specific isolation area and arrange for them to leave as soon as possible. Any worker or camper with symptoms cannot return until 10 days after the first symptoms.
- Train staff to recognize symptoms of the virus, procedures for isolating potentially ill campers, and mitigation procedures to perform afterwards.
- Camps must require parents to remain in their cars and use contactless forms of check-in and check-out for campers.
- Camps must prohibit unnecessary visitors.
- Meals. If possible, require campers to bring their own lunch and snacks. If that is not possible, camps must follow rules for restaurants set out in the order. We can provide a summary of those rules if you need them.
- Cleaning. Camps must regularly sanitize equipment, bathrooms, frequently touched surfaces, and rooms that the camp uses.
- Personal Protection. Camps must require campers to wash their hands during breaks, provide hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment (PPE) and require their use where practical, and require staff to wear gloves when assisting children with meals.
- Enforcing Rules. Enforce social distancing rules, prohibit large groups, and keep different groups of campers separated from each other.
Other Matters: We also recommend that your organization take a look at your parent agreements and employment contracts and consider waivers. These are not part of the governor’s order, but are good practices that we recommend:
- Check your employee/volunteer handbooks and agreements to be certain that failure to follow the governor’s order and CDC guidelines, particularly handwashing, are included as grounds for discipline. You need only have general language in your agreements that covers these issues.
- Children and Parents. Be sure that your parent agreements allow you to expel children if their parents refuse to follow the governor’s order and CDC guidelines, such as by keeping sick children at home. Also check that the waivers in any agreements protect you if any children contract the virus or test positive after attending the center or camp. With this novel situation, it is recommended that you have parents execute new waivers specific to COVID-19.
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