Last updated: August 17, 2020 at 2:15 p.m.
The provincial government is permitting certain summer day camps to operate during July and August 2020. Overnight camps are prohibited. For more information, read Toronto Public Health’s Guidance for Day Camps (also available below) and tips for children’s activities.
Also read the Ministry of Health’s Guidance for Summer Day Camps.
COVID-19: Guidance for Day Camps
The provincial government is permitting certain summer day camps to operate during July and August 2020. Overnight camps are prohibited. The following recommendations are intended to help organizers and staff working at day camps reduce the spread of COVID-19. As every program will be different, it is ultimately the responsibility of day camp organizers and operators to review their own policies, procedures and site-specific circumstances, and assess their ability to deliver programs and activities while ensuring that the appropriate infection prevention and control (IPAC) measures are implemented and maintained. More information about COVID-19 can be found in the Toronto Public Health (TPH) COVID-19 Fact Sheet.
Bylaw on use of masks and face coverings
Effective July 7, 2020, the use of non-medical masks or face coverings is required in all indoor public spaces, as per a new City of Toronto bylaw. Operators are required to develop a policy and protocols on the wearing of masks. Refer to the guidance on mask and face covering bylaw for a sample policy your organization can adapt. Train staff on the new bylaw policy, including who is exempt and how to safely wear a cloth mask or face covering. More information is available here.
Recommendations for Day Camp Operators and Staff to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19:
Promote Healthy Behaviour
Develop/update Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) policies and procedures
- Develop and or update administrative policies and procedures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Screening and temperature checks
- Attendance reporting
- Cohorting staff and participants
- Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
- Physical distancing
- Enhanced environmental cleaning and disinfection
- Use of personal protective equipment
- Mandatory mask use in indoor spaces
- Isolation/exclusion of ill participants and day camp staff
- Communication with families/guardians
- Occupational health and safety.
- Day camp staff must be aware of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and how the virus can spread.
- Train staff to ensure that they are aware of and can implement the revised IPAC policies and procedures.
- Staff should receive clear instructions on the new mask bylaw and the associated policies and procedures (i.e. staff should understand when it is necessary to wear a mask and who is exempt from wearing a mask).
- Train staff on how to use personal protective equipment (PPE), including the proper use of masks.
- Encourage staff to download the COVID Alert app so they can be notified directly if they have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.
- Refer to Public Health Ontario resources.
Designate a screening station near the entrance of the program area
- Designate an area outside of the program setting, near the main entrance, as a screening station.
- The area must allow a minimum of two metres (six feet) distance between staff conducting screening and the individual being screened.
- Alternatively, a protective barrier (e.g. plexiglass) can be equipped around the screening station.
- Ensure participants and parents/guardians maintain two metres (six feet) from others when waiting to be screened.
- Staff conducting in-person screening and temperature checks should wear PPE (i.e. surgical/procedure mask and eye protection).
- Post signage in visible areas clearly explaining the screening process and the conditions for entry.
Increase public health awareness
- Download, print and post signs in visible locations to raise awareness about COVID-19 and to encourage healthy behaviours:
- Provide education to parents/guardians and staff about COVID-19, its symptoms, how the virus can spread, and when to stay home.
- For more information about symptoms of COVID-19, refer to TPH COVID-19 Fact Sheet.
Maintain a Healthy Environment during Operations
Conduct daily screening and temperature checks prior to entry/drop-off
- Remind staff and parents/guardians of children attending the day camp that they must not attend the day camp program when they are ill, and that they should report any symptoms associated with COVID-19 to the day camp operator.
- Actively screen (i.e. in-person, virtually or by reviewing electronic submission) and check the temperature of day camp participants, staff and any other individual prior to entry/arrival to the day camp program area.
- Where possible, daily screening and temperature checks may be completed by the parent/guardian at home and submitted electronically (e.g. via online form, survey, or e-mail) prior to arrival at camp.
- If screening and temperature checks are done in-person at the day camp, a parent/guardian must accompany the child and be available to respond to the screening questions.
- Screen all children, day camp staff and any other individuals prior to entry/arrival by asking about the following:
- Do you, the child or any member of your household have any of the following symptoms: fever/feverish, new onset of cough, worsening chronic cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, decrease or loss of sense of taste or smell, chills, headaches, unexplained fatigue/malaise/muscle aches, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, pink eye (conjunctivitis) runny nose/nasal congestion without other known cause?
- Have you/the child tested positive for COVID-19 or had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 without wearing appropriate PPE?
- Have you/the child travelled outside of Canada, including the United States, within the last 14 days?
- Record the screening results daily.
- Day camp operators may use and/or adopt the health-screening questionnaire to record individual screening results.
- Keep all screening records available onsite.
- Make alcohol-based hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) available for use at the screening station for participants who have answered NO to all questions prior to entry into the program area.
- Individuals who answer YES to any of the questions must not be permitted to attend the day camp/enter the program area.
- Staff must escort participants into the day camp program area after screening. Parents must not go past the screening area/designated drop-off location or enter the day camp program area unless there is a specific need to do so and the parent passes the screening.
Enhance attendance reporting practices
- Maintain daily attendance records of all individuals entering the program area. This includes but is not limited to day camp staff and participants, parents/guardians, maintenance workers, cleaning/environmental staff, and government agency employees (e.g. public health inspectors, fire inspectors).
- Records (e.g. name, contact information, time of arrival/departure, screening and temperature check results) must be kept up-to date and available to facilitate contact tracing in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case or outbreak.
- Attendance records should be updated when a participant/staff is absent.
- Day camp operators should follow-up with all individuals to determine the reason for any unplanned absences, and if the absence is due to illness, to note any symptoms (e.g. fever, sore throat, feeling unwell). Refer to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Reference Document for Symptoms.
- Encourage parents/guardians of ill participants and day camp staff who are ill to seek COVID-19 testing at assessment centres and to call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or their primary care provider to determine if further care is required.
- Monitor attendance records for patterns or trends (e.g. participants/staff in the same group absent at the same time or over the course of a few days).
- Day camp organizers should contact TPH if there is an increase in absenteeism and they suspect that noted symptoms may be related to COVID-19.
- Attendance records must be available on-site at all times.
Assign staff and participants into cohorts
- Assign participants and staff together into small dedicated groups or cohorts.
- Organized groups should have no more than 10 individuals, including both staff and camp participants.
- If necessary, limit participant group sizes based on the space provided to allow for physical distancing.
- Establish an appropriate staff-to-participant ratio that ensures adequate supervision and maintains physical distancing.
- While close contact may be unavoidable between members of a cohort, physical distancing and infection prevention and control practices such as, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette should encouraged and practiced where possible.
- Do not permit mixing between groups/cohorts if possible. All members (staff and participants) should remain with the same group throughout the day camp period (or a minimum of seven days).
- Cohorts should have their own room/space.
- Each group should have designated equipment (e.g. balls, loose equipment) or clean and disinfect equipment between cohorts.
- Schedule/stagger group activities, snack times and lunchtime/meals to avoid mixing and to reduce the number of individuals in the lunch area.
- Schedule/stagger washroom breaks.
- Incorporate and prioritize activities that encourage more space between participants so that physical distancing can be maintained.
- Organize activities that only use items that can be easily cleaned and disinfected (e.g. avoid plush toys, playdough) or are single use and disposed of at the end of the day/program (e.g. craft supplies).
- Minimize the sharing and frequency of touching objects, toys, equipment, surfaces and other personal items.
- Do not use shared sensory play items (e.g. water play, playdough).
- Provide individualized bins for participant’s supplies and items (e.g. craft supplies).
- Keep participants personal belongings to minimum. Personal items such as water bottles and sunscreen should be labelled and stored separately.
- Stagger scheduling of arrivals/drop-off and departures/pick-up times to limit contact between participants from different groups.
- Encourage families to have only one adult parent/guardian drop-off and pick-up participants.
- Drop off and pick-up should be supervised and occur outside the program area in a designated area to avoid congestion unless it is determined that there is a need for the parent/guardian to enter.
Practice physical distancing
- Practice physical distancing (i.e. a two metre/six foot distance) as best as possible between children during activities while still permitting interaction and socializing to occur.
- Avoid group events, gatherings or meetings.
- Physical distancing must not compromise supervision or the camp participant’s safety, emotional or psychological well-being.
- Maintain physical distancing by limiting the number of participants in each organized group attending the day camp and restrict the mixing of participants between groups, if possible.
- Remind participants to greet each other using non-physical gestures (e.g. wave or nod), not to share items, including food, toys, arts and crafts, costumes, hats, hair combs, make-up etc., and encourage everyone to keep their distance as best as possible during activities.
- Space seating and activity stations two metres (six feet) apart.
- Provide visual guides such as tape on floors or tables, posted signs, pylons and flags to delineate two metres (six feet).
- Use telephone or video conferencing when possible for meetings between staff and parents/guardians.
Modify program activities
- Day camp organizers should assess the available space for the camp program. Programs operated both indoor and outdoor should allow for all participants and staff to maintain a two-meter (six foot) distance from each other.
- Account for alternative space required in the event of inclement weather (e.g. rain days, heat alerts).
- Prioritize and plan field trips such as walking to the park or going on hikes if physical distancing can be maintained and staff are able to safely supervise participants at all times.
- Follow public health guidance when using outdoor playgrounds and fitness equipment:
- Limit non-essential visitors, volunteers and activities involving external groups or organizations as much as possible.
- Avoid singing activities indoors and ensure physical distancing for singing activities outdoors.
- Do not organize activities with exposures to animals or pets that involve frequent touching by different camp participants (e.g. petting zoo, animal visitors, etc.). Activities with limited or no touching (e.g. wildlife viewing) should follow all requirements for health and safety as set out in the guidance as well as the Recommendations for the Management of Animals in Child Care Setting
- The provision of bussing or group transportation is not recommended at this time.
- Consider virtual activities/learning opportunities, modified job responsibilities and telework options as alternatives for staff and participants who are unable to physically attend the day camp.
- Overnight camps are prohibited from operating at this time.
- Reinforce food safety policies:
- Ensure participants and staff perform proper hand hygiene before and after eating.
- Do not plan activities that involve participants sharing, preparing or self-serving food.
- Ensure participants have their own individually packaged meal or snack.
- Ensure that camp participants bring their own water bottle and that it is labelled.
- Ensure that multi-use food utensils are cleaned after each use.
Practice hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration), provided hands are not visibly soiled.
- Remind staff and participants to avoid touching their face, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue. If you do not have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve.
- Ensure that participants have the ability to practice hand hygiene often, and when needed:
- Incorporate hand hygiene into breaks and timeouts between program activities and before and after snacks and lunchtime/meals.
- Supervise/assist camp participants with hand hygiene if necessary.
- Provide additional hand sanitizer stations in supervised areas (e.g. hand sanitizer dispensers near entrances and inside activity rooms), if possible.
- Monitor supplies to ensure adequate amounts of liquid soap, paper towel, (air dryer if paper towels are not available), hand sanitizer, tissues and waste receptacles with lined plastic bags.
Proper use of cloth and non-medical masks
- The use of non-medical masks or face coverings is required in all indoor public spaces, as per a new City of Toronto bylaw. Operators are required to develop a policy and protocols on the wearing of masks. More information is available here.
- Face masks are strongly recommended in outdoor settings when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- Masks do not replace the need for physical distancing, hand washing, and staying home when sick.
- Face coverings may not be tolerated by everyone. Underlying health, behaviour issues or beliefs should be considered to avoid physical and psychological injuries that may result as an unintended consequence of wearing a mask.
Enhance environmental cleaning and disinfection
Isolate day camp staff and participants who become ill
- It is recommended that day camp staff/participants with symptoms of COVID-19 attend an assessment centre for testing as soon as possible, and to self-isolate at home until their result is available.
- If a participant becomes ill with symptoms while attending the day camp, immediately separate them from the rest of their group in a designated room and supervise the ill participant until they are picked-up.
- Notify parents/guardians or emergency contacts to pick-up the ill participant as soon as possible.
- Staff should enable participants to practice proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette as necessary while waiting to be picked-up.
- The designated room should have a handwashing sink or alcohol-based hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) available.
- Provide tissues to the participant to support respiratory etiquette.
- Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area if it can be done safely.
- Participants that are ill should be asked to wear a face mask if tolerated and they are able to use it properly (e.g. donning and doffing carefully, avoiding touching the mask while on).
- Staff supervising the ill participant should maintain physical distancing as best as possible, and wear PPE, including a surgical/procedure mask and eye protection.
- Clean and disinfect the area after the individual with symptoms has been picked-up. Items that cannot be cleaned and disinfected (e.g. paper, books, cardboard puzzles) should be removed from the program and stored in a sealed container for a minimum of seven days.
- If the ill participant/staff is tested for COVID-19 and their test result is negative, they can resume attending the day camp after being symptom free for 24 hours and they pass the screening.
- Day camp staff and participants who were exposed to an individual who became ill with symptoms (i.e. suspected COVID-19 case) must continue to be grouped together (i.e. cohorted), and monitored for signs and symptoms of illness:
- Day camp staff must not work in other program areas/settings (e.g. other day camp programs). They must also be advised to avoid being in contact with vulnerable persons or settings where there are vulnerable persons.
- Contact TPH to seek further advice as necessary.
- Staff and participants exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 must be excluded from the day camp program for 14 days.
- These individuals must self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for the next 14 days.
- Individuals who have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 should be tested as soon as any symptoms develop.
- If asymptomatic, individuals who have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 are also encouraged to be tested any time within 14 days of the potential exposure. They will need to continue to self-isolate for 14 days even if the test is negative.
- Day camp staff and participants who are being managed by TPH (i.e. confirmed cases of COVID-19) should follow TPH instructions to determine when they can return to the day camp.
- Staff should also report to their Occupational Health and Safety Department prior to return to work.
- Clearance tests are not required for staff or participants to return to the day camp.
Report cases and outbreaks to Toronto Public Health
- Day Camp operators must immediately report the following to TPH at 416-392-7411 during work hours (8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday) or 3-1-1 after hours:
- Clusters of suspected cases (e.g. two or more children or staff with COVID-19 symptoms within a 48-hour period).
- Cases of COVID-19 among staff or child attendees that are laboratory-confirmed or probable (i.e. symptoms occurring among a staff or child who has been exposed to a person with confirmed COVID-19).
Increase communication with staff, participants and their families
- Develop and implement communication platforms to provide information about programs, health and safety measures (e.g. screening/health check programs, physical distancing, staying home when you’re sick etc.) with staff, day camp participants and their families through the day camp website, email or social media accounts.
- Use telephone or video conferencing when possible for meetings between day camp operators/staff and parents/guardians.
- Designate a point of contact (e.g. coordinator or camp organizer) who will be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns and communicating with TPH if needed.
- Post signs at all entrances instructing participants and their families not to enter if they are sick.
- Encourage families to download the COVID Alert app so they can be notified directly if they have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.
Workplace Health and Safety
- Employers must have written measures and procedures for staff safety, including for infection prevention and control.
- Ontario has general information on COVID-19 and workplace health and safety. Learn about an employers’ responsibilities and how to protect workers at work.
- Workers can get information about health and safety protections at the workplace.