Health & Safety in the COVID-19 Pandemic Era


Image added March 16, 2020 from Anne Marie Darling

Published March 12, 2020 and last updated April 28, 2021

Health has always been the number one priority at Wolf Camp, as it should be for all educational programs. We have an extensive policy manual that serves as a guide for earth skills educational programs, and extensive blog articles on risk management as well as teaching in outdoor settings. We consider pedagogy, or the study of teaching, as our forte, with earth skills education as our subject matter focus. Being outdoors itself is a prime mitigation tool against the transmission of disease, but we nevertheless follow pandemic protocols as if we were indoors.

Unless the pandemic abates, or unless ALL group participants have completed vaccinations, our 2021 protocols will include the following components which exceed state guidelines for “essential child care businesses” (pdf) such as ours. Please see below for letter we received  from the governor on June 10th, 2020 confirming that along with all summer day camps and child care centers, we are considered an essential business.

  • Each participant must pass our health screening before exiting vehicle.
  • Multiple independent student groups (CDC term is “cohorts”) may operate outdoors on the same property. State guidelines allow us 20 youth in a group with 2 adults, but we are limiting ours to 9 in a group with 1 lead instructor and 1 assistant, while allowing 2 of our groups to share a toilet facility and potable water spigot as long as the groups don’t interact.
  • We require all toilet users to leave the door open for a minute between uses, and student hygiene protocols will include: proper hand sanitizing whenever sharing tools and materials, before entering toilet facilities, and supervised hand washing afterwards. Please scroll to bottom of this page for in-depth hygiene protocols taken by staff to maintain clean facilities.
  • Outdoor distancing between students will follow 2021 CDC summer camp guidelines with everyone wearing approved masks when moving, and when seated less than 6 feet apart. Staff will continue to maintain distancing from students at all times, except when all parties are stationary and wearing masks in order to take temperatures, or to help with hands-on projects like archery, etc.
  • Keeping children 3-6 feet apart as per CDC guidelines will be part of every participant’s training, but this year we are not running our “zombie” theme nor walking children in formations which was needed to keep everyone safe last year. Due to all staff being vaccinated this year, and all children well aware of pandemic protocols by now, we will simply train them in our specialized “outdoor safety and awareness” theme at the start of every day to self-enforce distancing with redirection from staff when encroachment occurs. We know from experience that people of all ages naturally brake distancing on a regular basis, so parents should be aware that it will likely occur during camp despite daily trainings. If unrelated children ever accidentally touch, they will be directed to sanitize hands immediately.
  • Contact tracing will be in effect. Health & Education Director Kim Chisholm has received her 6 hour Contact Tracing Certificate through Johns Hopkins University which provides multiple types of communicable disease prevention training.

To summarize the changes reflected above in comparison to last year’s protocols, outdoor distancing will not be as strict between campers this year if approved masks are worn correctly when moving, and when seated less than 6 feet apart. In other words, we will only monitor 6′ distances when campers are not wearing masks, whereas last year, we arranged campers into 12′ formations, even outdoors with masks, and vigilantly monitored so they never wandered past the invisible 6′ barrier. Staff will still maintain greater than 6 foot distancing from campers at all times, except when all parties are stationary and wearing masks to take temperatures, or to help with hands-on projects like archery training, etc.

The following letter includes a Washington State Health Department link detailing minimum Covid-19 protocols necessary for day camps and child care facilities. Here at Wolf Camp, we developed policies and procedures (summarized further down on the page) in March 2020 which far surpass those required by the state.

From: MIL WA Essential Business <waessentialbusiness@mil.wa.gov>
Subject: 20-25 Response
Date: June 10, 2020 at 8:45:55 AM PDT

Thank you for your inquiry. The Safe Start plan for reopening Washington state does not address childcare or education. Child care has remained open and may continue to operate. For Summer Day Camp and Youth Programming included in this guidance, we recommend they start when their school year would typically end (this is not uniform across the state). As is stated in the guidance, families who are able to safely keep their children and youth home should continue to do so, but we understand this is not always possible. Especially as more communities move through phases and more sectors come on line. 
 
This guidance should be followed throughout the summer and until the DOH provides updated guidance for the safe operation of programs serving children and youth. Please review the guidance document here: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/DOH-OSPI-DYCF-SchoolsChildCareGuidance.pdf  
For your information, the following are links to Department of Health, Department of Labor & Industries and Governor’s Office phased re-opening guidance:  
 
Safe start plans and guidance for reopening: https://coronavirus.wa.gov/what-you-need-know/safe-start 
Department of Labor and Industries guidance. 
Department of Health guidance: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Coronavirus/Workplace  
Thank you. 
 
COVID-19 SEOC Business Response Center 

Our policies and procedures exceed summer camp guidelines published regarding the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the disease it causes, Covid-19 in compliance with the lastes Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Washington State Department of Health, as well as King and Pierce County where we hold our programs.

Overnight Camps were closed in 2020 but recently, guidance has been issued for reopening this summer. It was issued too late in the season for us to run overnight camps this year, except for one week by invitation only to alumni. Group sizes are limited to 16 which for traditional camps means 16 to a building, whereas we would interperet that to mean 16 people to a bathroom facility. In the one week we plan to run, we are only going to have 1 group, so 14 students and 2 instructors at a site that has 2 bathrooms. The same protocols as above for day camps will otherwise be followed.

 

Adult & Family Workshops will follow the above “Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery” guidelines for individuals and businesses. We believe ur workshops fall under the Outdoor Entertainment Establishments clause and although we are currently in Phase III as of April, we nevertheless plan to limit our July 12-16, 2021 workshops to a maximum of 15 participants.

In the survival field, we have been preparing for, and working to prevent, situations like a pandemic throughout our careers. We run programs that focus on skills of emergency preparedness and survival, including how to avoid communicable diseases and what to do in case of pandemic. Although our programs take place in open-air spaces, we were not aware of any peer reviewed, published studies regarding the rate of virus dispersal in the outdoors, so to be safe, we followed indoor distancing protocols even while outdoors.

Recently in the Spring of 2021, studies are showing that the level of virus dispersal outdoors is too low to be contagious, but we will nevertheless follow the latest CDC guidelines to be safe at summer camps as well as WHO protocols and other scientifically based guidance such as designing work stations which are separated by over 6 feet, having appropriate sanitizing and disinfecting supplies available at all times (along with a strict disinfection schedule) and use of P.P.E. including masks.

Families will continue to complete our Communicable Disease Screening form a day before attending camps this summer. Temperature checks and other steps will be required upon arrival every day. Staff will also follow strict screening protocol and will not work or be on site if they present transmission risk.

We have always tried to strike a balance when determining professional distancing while teaching. Many of the skills we impart are naturally hands-on. But in the new reality, instructors will have to consider distancing protocols when helping students. We will also continue to replace games and most activities that involve student-to-student contact with other methods of building skills and social interaction in the outdoors. History of Interest: Lessons from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Hygiene

Along with historical requirements that Wolf Camp participants always wash hands before every meal and after using the bathroom, greatly enhanced protocols will be instituted for the continued safety of campers and staff this year. Once again, guidelines will be monitored, and our practices during a potential camp season will follow as changes occur. At a minimum, we will require hand washing and/or hand sanitizing at regular intervals in addition to before and after using the bathroom, before and after eating, before and after using tools, after accidentally touching faces or other high-risk surfaces, and after stepping away for a masked cough or sneeze. Staff will perform thorough cleaning and disinfecting of bathrooms and other structures such as tables and benches before and after programs, including all surfaces people may tend to touch (chairs, pens, credit card swipers, books, markers, etc.) also employing virus sanitizing sprays, etc. before/after/if different student groups utilize a same location. The number and quality of washing and sanitizing stations will increase, and we’ll specifically train staff in additional protocols such as ways to help students remember to avoid touching faces, and of course shaking hands or touching people outside their family/personal circles. Finally, bathroom doors will be propped open to “air-out” for at least one minute between uses.

Refund Policy as Risk Management

One of the Wolf Camp policies we have always had in place is a refund policy that offers 100% credit toward future programs for any cancellation reason, something that has always helped prevent the spread of colds, flus, and other communicable diseases. The policy has helped people avoid feeling like they needed to attend for fear of losing money. To prevent disease transmission, it should always be fine to cancel at the last minute. This year, we will also give day-by-day credit to any participant who may be experiencing symptoms, who had any recent exposure to communicable diseases like the novel coronavirus, or who has planned contact with vulnerable populations. We also offered Virtual Day Camps in 2020 designed for those who preferred distance learning, or who did not pass our screening requirements in advance of attendance.

Feedback

Please email us or comment below with questions and suggestions. If you would like a copy of our official communicable disease policies and procedures including Covid-19 updates, please let us know and we will share a link to those. Wolf Camp parents will receive that link as part of their registration process.

We want to thank you for helping us build a new reality going forward that will help keep people safe, and  perhaps even inspiring a simultaneous reduction other communicable diseases like seasonal flu as we fight the newest pandemic. We believe Wolf Camp has been and will continue to be one of the safest places for people to be during the pandemic era. With gratitude, – Kim & Chris Chisholm

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