MARBLEHEAD — When the YMCA of the North Shore decided to go ahead with its plans for the Children's Island Day Camp again this year, it knew it faced a challenge to stay ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic and provide as safe an experience for campers as they might expect to find in their homes.
The first four and a half weeks or so of the summer went without problem, but the inevitable caught up with them earlier this week when the camp was notified that a parent of one of the campers had tested positive for COVID-19.
According to camp protocols, the child was isolated and sent home from camp to be tested. Camp officials learned Wednesday morning that the camper, a member of the CIT (Counselor in Training) program had also tested positive for the virus. That camper is asymptomatic and, according to family, feeling well.
Immediately, upon receiving this news, camp officials took the following steps to ensure the safety of everyone:
- The CITs and their group counselor were isolated and sent home early. They will be required to quarantine with their families for ten days and test negative before returning. The Y said it will support them in any way needed to ensure they have access to testing.
- The camp notified the Board of Health and the state Department of Public Health and is following their directions.
- The rest of the campers and staff were sent home until Friday, and the Y's facility team was deployed to camp with electrostatic fogging guns to provide additional sanitization to all camp spaces. Camp will reopen Friday and campers — except for the quarantine group — will be able to return then and resume normal activities.
Darlene Moulton, director of risk management for the YMCA, stressed that the camp has "taken all the protocols recommended" by state health authorities "and then some."
She pointed out that the eight CITs and the staff member supporting that group have not had close contact with any other campers or camp groups.
She said she and Gerald MacKillop Jr., executive director of the Lynch/van Otterloo YMCA, met the campers as they disembarked from the ferries that returned them to Salem and Marblehead on Wednesday, and spoke directly with the parents who had come to pick them up.
In a letter electronically transmitted to the parents on Wednesday, MacKillop said that as the camp moves forward, they "intend to stay in close contact with the Board of Health and will adjust our camp operations in any way directed." "We will (also) continue to follow the state re-opening protocols in all aspects of camp to create the safest environment we can in these challenging times," he said.
These protocols include:
- Keeping all counselors and staff within designated groups;
- Ensuring campers are vigilant in handwashing;
- Wearing masks whenever they are unable to maintain social distancing;
- Checking for symptoms of COVID-19 before attending camp.