TRENTON — The New Jersey Department of Health will release updated guidance for summer and sleep away camps, according to the department’s commissioner.

Judith Persichilli, the commissioner of the department, said that the updated guidance will continue to prioritize face coverings, social distancing and cohorts, practices that were put into place last summer.

The commissioner said that the safety protocols were “successful in mitigating the transmission of the virus in these camps last summer, so thankfully there were no outbreaks reported in the last season.”

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On Wednesday, the commissioner said that all camp staff must be trained on basic principles of infection control, hand washing practices personal protective equipment and handwashing hygiene. Outdoor activities are strongly encouraged for this year, and camps should group the same staff and children together.

Mealtimes should also be staggered to keep groups of children intact.

When in indoor settings, staff must wear face masks at all times when practicable.  When social distancing is not possible outdoors, campers should also wear masks. Campers are not required to mask when they are in their bunk or in their assigned cohort.

Sleep away camps were also given the green light to operate this year. New guidance for this year from the New Jersey Department of Health requires that unvaccinated overnight campers and staff receive a COVID-19 test before camp beings and within the first few days of the camp.

Executive order 149, an executive order regulating summer camp operation during the pandemic signed last year, will remain in effect for this year.

As part of summer camp requirements under the executive order, persons with a fever of 100.4 degrees or above shall not be admitted into a facility and staff must be screened for signs of fever or other COVID-19 symptoms. Children shall not be in groups larger than 10, and groups of children must social distance from other groups. Outdoor playtime on a shared playground must be staggered to prevent the mixing of groups. Summer camp operators must also put into effect procedures to prevent crowding during drop-off and picking up of campers.  The executive order also requires face coverings and hand washing stations.

“We are all committed to a safe and fun summer for our kids,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.

Nearly 3 million New Jerseyans are now fully vaccinated, close to the state’s “initial” goal of vaccinating 4.7 million adult residents by the end of June, the governor said on Wednesday.

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