SAN FRANCISCO - The season of summer camps is just weeks away and health officials are considering whether to issue revised COVID-19 safety guidelines for children.
Parents will need to be aware that policies could change through the summer.
The CDC is still reviewing its guidance for camps. California health officials also are meeting to review policies with its targeted date for reopening on June 15th. Children pose a particular challenge.
More than 50% of the nation's adults are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and children 12-years and older are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine now. Younger children, however, are not yet vaccinated and the CDC's guidance allowing vaccinated adults to go mask-free is not advised right now for summer camps.
A San Francisco health department spokesman says city officials are meeting this week and could decide whether to announce modifications to masking and other rules for summer camps as early as Friday. Many summer camps in the city begin June 7th and right now, many restrictions remain such as masking and 3 feet of social distancing when eating, singing, or playing a wind instrument outdoors.
Tameeka Jones is a San Francisco parent with two children ages 2 and 5-years-old.
"I'm just looking for a camp that fits their personalities, but I'm really excited that things are opening back up so the possibilities are there," said Jones.
"The difference between last year and this is a sense of hope and excitement that we didn't necessarily have last year," said Maysha Bell, the Executive Director of the San Francisco YMCA's Out-of-School Curriculum. She says they've downsized from 5,000 campers to under 2,000 this year in order to keep the 3 feet of distancing and smaller pods.
"It's a sense of urgency that's being felt. We have1,500 participants enrolled at this time," said Bell.
San Francisco's new Summer Together program is partnering with non-profits, businesses, and philanthropists to provide free summer camp spots for public school students to catch up on lessons lost during the year.
"We are so excited to have 26,000 opportunities available for our public-school children and families this summer," said Maria Su, Director of the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and Families, "A little learning in the morning, we'll have a nice lunch and then we'll transition and have that really fun typical summer camp that we all know."
San Francisco eased restrictions on May 20th for camps, no longer requiring children to be in pods, and allowing vaccinated adults to volunteer.
For now, camps do require masks for children.
"Families who participate in this initiative will have to do the health screenings, will have to do the masking, will have to do the regular hand hygiene," said Su.
Some camps such as the Celsius and Beyond science programs plan to play it safe.
Auritte Cohen-Ross is founder and director of the Celsius and Beyond Summer Camp and says they plan to play it safe and require everyone wear masks, including teachers who have been fully vaccinated since there is still a possibility, they might be infected but asymptomatic.
"Kids still need to wear masks indoors even if the city changes the rules. This is how we're going to do it. They cannot be vaccinated," said Cohen-Ross, "We're still waiting to hear from the city in regarding to the face mask outdoors for kids."
Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU. Email Jana at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or ktvu.com.