See below for answers to Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 at Sci-Tech East.
As you are aware, CDC guidance continues to evolve and change (sometimes daily!) – please remember the CDC guidance is generally designed for an individual and their family and not the communal setting of a residential summer camp. As a result, our guidance may at times be slightly more restrictive out of an abundance of caution in protecting the health and safety of our community. As you prepare for the summer, please remember that your decisions will not just impact your own family but also potentially all of the people your camper will meet when they get to camp on Opening Day.
The CDC recommends that you stay with your family for the 14 days prior to camp if you are unvaccinated. We strongly encourage even vaccinated people to stay home for at least one full week prior to camp. We do not need to let ANY viruses into camp, especially this summer.
For the 7-14 days preceding your camp session, you need to self-isolate and remain in your family COVID “bubble” only. This means you and your camper need to:
- Avoid any indoor unmasked exposure outside immediate family, even to vaccinated people.
- Participate only in school, daycare, or camps that follow CDC guidance including universal masking, hand hygiene, spacing, small group cohorts and contact tracing
- If above school, daycare, or camp experiences are discretionary, please avoid scheduling them the week before camp to minimize exposure risk.
- Avoid all public gatherings of more than five people outside of your household. This includes but is not limited to:
- Indoor restaurants
- Team sports
- Businesses and locations that do not follow COVID health and safety guidelines
- Avoid hosting overnight guests in your home who are not routine visitors/family in your home.
- Avoid staying overnight in someone else’s home who is not a frequent visitor/family in your home.
- Avoid travel outside of your home region.
- Avoid socializing outside of school and workplaces
- Minimally follow the most up-to-date CDC guidelines
- Maintain six-foot separations from others in outdoor public spaces
- Wear masks outside of your home
- Practice diligent hand hygiene
For protocols around travel, especially by plane, please check out the 2021 Traveling to Camp Resource in your CampInTouch account.
- There are still “break-through” cases, and we want to help make sure that you are not one of them.
- There are other viruses out there that are not COVID. If you come in with one of those, we will probably have to rule out COVID by isolating you and your bunk while we test to see what you have.
- Many viruses present with COVID-like symptoms. Quarantining with your family not only keeps your immediate family safe, but also helps to safeguard our entire camp community against COVID and other viruses that may make their way into camp. Thank you in advance for doing your part to help keep our community healthy this summer.
- The FDA has approved under an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children 12-15. This adds to the EUA for teens and adults 16 and older. Vaccinations will provide an important tool to mitigate the risks of COVID at Camp this summer.
- Our URJ Camps Medical Advisory Team strongly encourages the families of all who are eligible to join our fully vaccinated staff. The higher our percentage of vaccinated individuals becomes, the better for the camp community.
- The ideal situation is to get both doses, three weeks apart, with the second dose administered two weeks before your session’s Opening Day. This will be easier for later-starting camps and for those campers arriving second or third session.
- If you cannot get the second shot, you are still protected two weeks after your first shot. The second dose can be given after camp.
- While vaccines are incredibly effective, they are not 100% effective.
- The camper community is also not 100% vaccinated. Of the 2-dose Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, some eligible campers have had two doses pre-camp, some have had one dose pre-camp, and some have chosen not to vaccinate.
- Because of the recent approval of the EUA, campers who have been vaccinated may not be fully immunized until partially through their camp session.
- To be careful, we will begin the summer with most indoor activities taking place in a “pod”. These are like a “household” in which many masking and social distancing rules do not apply. These are often also called “cohorts”. After the first week of each session, if our testing program yields non-COVID answers, there may be the possibility of relaxing some of the masking guidelines as it relates to outdoor pod mixing.
- Certain activities deemed to be “high risk” for disease spread will be limited to pods.
- Large group programs indoors will not take place or will happen under physical distancing conditions.
- Outdoor activities, like our chugim (electives), Shabbat, and our Sababa period, may be possible with multiple pods if all individuals are masked and also physically distanced. After the first week, there may be the opportunity to unmask after the first week if everyone tests negative for COVID-19.
- We have altered our schedule at Sci-Tech to prioritize safe ways for campers across pods to socialize during the day. We are proactively planning grade/unit time and are planning on maximizing that time throughout the day so campers can see friends in other dorms on a regular, consistent, and meaningful basis.
- Our pods/cohorts will be organized by workshop/dorm. 1 to 2 workshops will be housed in a dorm.
- There are about 30 campers per dorm. Halls within dorms will be mixed-age but still divided by gender, with our trans and nonbinary campers living on the halls that affirm their gender identity and/or where they feel most comfortable.
- Most campers will be housed in rooms of 2. We will only have three campers in a room if there is an odd number of campers, as we don’t want campers to be alone.
- Roommates will be grade similar. That means they will either be in the same grade or only one grade up or one grade down. However, a Lower Camper (grades 5 – 7) will never be roommates with an Upper Camper (grades 8 – 11).
- We will try to meet roommate requests but are presented with more logistical limitations than normal, so roommate requests might not be possible to be met. Thank you for your understanding with this!
- Within a pod, campers do not need to be masked or physically distanced, whether inside or outside.
- Podding by workshop means that campers and their staff (including the workshop instructor) do not have to be masked or physically distanced in their workshops, which is where campers spend the majority of their day. Podding by workshop also means that if we need to quarantine a dorm, either while we wait for the test results of someone showing symptoms or due to someone in a pod testing positive for COVID-19, campers will still have full access to their workshop and workshop instructor.
- The Medical Advisory Group is a team of five doctors who have experience or specialization in public health and infectious disease.
- They meet regularly to review and modify system policies.
- Each camp has a local Camp Medical Director in addition to the physicians and nurses serving on-site during the summer.
- During each session, all campers are expected to arrive on time and not leave the campgrounds for non-emergency or non-business-oriented reasons. There will not be any out-of-camp field trips for campers.
- We have a no visitors policy.
- If circumstances allow or the CDC recommendations change, we will review this policy.
- During Week One, we will follow State and Federal masking guidelines. We have been told to expect that all Summer Camp guidelines could change at any time prior to or during camp.
- Activities Within Pods: Indoors no mask is needed. Outdoors no mask is needed.
- Activities With Multiple Pods: masking and physical distancing during the first week of camp, both inside and outside.
- We recommend 6 disposable masks per day. We do not recommend cloth masks due to issues of cleanliness and loss. When buying masks, these are also known as “surgical masks”. Multiple layers and breathable materials are required. Bendable nosebands that help form the mask to a face are also best.
- Week One of each session is in pods. After that, depending on the group and the activity, campers and staff need a combination of 1) masks, 2) physical distancing or 3) take place outside.
- Once we finish week one with no positive tests, most outdoor activities between pods will not require masks as long as they are outside and physically distanced.
Campers who stay for intersession will move into an intersession-specific pod. At that point in the session, all campers who have stayed for camper will have tested negative for COVID-19 several times.
We are partnering with Northshore Clinical Labs of Chicago to administer our testing program and provide professional testing crews on our site. Samples are collected via Anterior Nares swab – a simple front nostril swab (not the “brain-tickler” you may have seen before). You may receive an “Explanation of Benefits” (EOB) from your health insurance company for tests conducted at Camp. There is nothing you need to do. It is not a bill. All costs for testing are being paid, whether your insurance company pays the claim or not.
All campers must arrive at camp with negative results from a PCR test that is taken no more than 3 to 5 days before arriving at camp. Campers will not be able to enter camp without a negative PCR test. The test can be taken in any location or city as long as it is within the 3-to-5-day period before your child arrives at camp. If you are concerned about the turnaround time of the test result because the testing window falls over a weekend, or quick testing sites are not available near you, you can get the PCR test for your child as early as five days before they arrive at camp. You will need to upload the results of the negative PCR test to your child’s CampInTouch account prior to arriving at camp or bring the negative test result with you.
Upon arrival, all campers and staff will receive a rapid antigen test. Campers who are flying and/or families who are doing airport handoffs should take a rapid test before boarding their flight.
Once camp begins, campers and staff will be tested on the following schedule:
- Day 3 (Friday): PCR Surveillance Tests will be collected by Northshore Labs and sent to their lab.
- Day 6 (Monday): PCR Surveillance Tests will be collected by Northshore Labs and sent to their lab.
- Daily surveillance, including a check-in with each camper, to screen pediatric symptoms of COVID-19.
After the second round of tests (on Day 6) during a session campers and staff will only be tested if symptomatic.
If you are unsure of when or where to acquire this PCR test, please reach out to Melissa Frey at email@example.com, a partner to the URJ camping system, who will work with your family to find a solution for your unique situation. When you email, please be sure to include the name of our camp (6 Points Sci-Tech Academy) and the name of your camper so she can best assist you.
- If campers are flying into the airport where they will take a shuttle to camp, we suggest you take a rapid antigen test before getting on the plane to ensure that your camper doesn’t arrive at camp with a positive test without you.
- If campers are flying in with you and then being driven to camp by you, your camper will go through the regular Opening Day testing procedure.
Contact your camp in advance and bring the test results with you. After 90 days, if the camper is still in camp and if the camp is still in its testing week, the camper will pick up the same testing schedule as the camp.
- You will not be able to enter camp. We will give you the address of the local clinic or hospital that hopefully has the capacity to conduct a PCR test quickly so that you can obtain a negative test and return to camp.
- If the PCR test confirms that your camper has COVID, we will try to make or find space for a later session.
- You will be notified by the camp by phone and asked to pick up your camper. We will forward the lab results of the test to you.
- All positive test results are reported to your state of residence.
- You will be notified by the camp by email.
- We will begin to test the other campers in the pod for a week.
- The pod will participate in a “shadowcamp program.” Because our pods are based on workshops, campers in shadowcamp mode will still have full access to high-level STEM instruction through their workshop of choice.
- Dorms that are in shadowcamp mode will not be part of all-camp activities or, if they are, part of them in very strategic and safe ways that guarantee distance, masking, and low-risk.
The vaccinated staff member will need to wear a mask during the week of quarantine and surveillance testing.
Staff and Faculty
Yes. We are working closely with our international staffing agencies to continue this process. We will follow their lead with regards to restrictions, work permit allowances, etc. Work permits and entry to the United States will depend on border restrictions for camp counselors and could if required, include a quarantine or pre-camp isolation period. Our international staff members, just like our domestic staff members, are required to be vaccinated.
Yes, although their role at camp will look different than years past. Faculty such as Rabbis, Cantors, and Jewish educators will be expected to follow the same closed campus guidelines and other COVID-19 safety precautions as our hired staff. We have about two faculty per session.