Second Session Covid Policy Update

Shalom Second and Mini Session Ramah Parents, I hope you and your families are well and are excitedly preparing for camp to begin. We are having a fantastical and magical experience at camp. At the same time, we have had COVID at camp (Thank God, the cases have been mostly mild). I want to make you aware of a few adjustments we are making to minimize its impact on second session. Of course, we would prefer there be no cases second month, but with prevalence so high in our catchment area and the likelihood that there will still be some cases among our full summer campers and staff, we want to keep our COVID numbers low enough that we will be able to accommodate campers who have COVID at camp.  We will be sending instructions on how to submit pre-camp testing, to sign up for drop-off times at camp and other opening day instructions later this week.  For context, here are my letters on July 6 and July 8, which explain our approach and policies. Two key policies that we instituted are  1). If our COVID census exceeds our ability to house COVID campers in the Marp (health center) and our other COVID centralized housing, we will require campers within driving distance to recuperate at home and 2). if/when anedah (unit) reaches a certain exposure level, we may allow COVID-positive campers to return masked to their bunks on the sixth day if they are feeling well enough. Details of these policies and more are in the two letters linked.   We believe that camp is great for kids and we want to create the best and fullest experience for the most people we can.  Our policies are made in consultation with the National Ramah Medical Committee, our Ramah New England medical director and medical committee, medical staff at camp and our senior leadership. COVID entered camp through several points in the first month. There were campers and staff who were exposed to COVID before camp but had not yet tested positive when they arrived at camp. Unfortunately, they spread COVID. Our Machon edah (entering 10th graders) had by far the most cases, probably because there were several entry points.  One reason that we are optimistic that we will experience fewer COVID cases during second session is that there are a sizable number of full summer campers and staff as well as incoming campers who have experienced this strain of COVID in the last sixty days.  We will be sending an email later this week with instructions on how to report COVID testing and other information and how to sign up for opening day drop-off times. Here are some key policies, some of which have been adjusted for second session:

  • We are canceling our Visiting Day for full session families. We don’t want any of our full session campers to contract COVID from their families who are contagious but not yet testing positive and we don’t want our campers to infect them.
  • We have tweaked our testing policy; for second session our policy is as follows:
    • We are requiring everyone to take at home rapid antigen tests on Monday and Tuesday, July 25 and July 26 (the day before arrival AND on arrival day).
    • If your camper tests negative but there is someone COVID positive in your house, you must let us know. They will be able to come to camp but we will take precautions so that they won’t spread to others.
    • If your camper has symptoms but is not testing positive, you must let us know. We have found that these cases often develop into positive tests a few days later. They will be able to come to camp but we will take precautions so that they won’t spread to others.
    • We will be testing full session campers at camp prior to second session to catch any lingering cases.
  • We will be eating outside in our OCH (pavilion attached to Chadar Ochel) from day one. We will have as many activities outside as possible. We will not have tzad or camp-wide activities at least until we do our Friday surveillance testing.
  • We may ask people to mask in certain situations, for example, if we are forced indoors more because of rain or at large indoor gatherings.
  • We will do our all-camp rapid antigen surveillance testing on Friday, July 29. Shabbat is a magical time and also one that has potential to spread COVID widely. We would like to find any cases before Shabbat.

We will, of course, adjust policies in real time to meet the conditions of the moment. I highly recommend that you read the July 6 and July 8 letters.

Important reminder regarding PackMyRx: THIS IS SOMETHING YOU NEED TO DO TODAY! We require all families with campers who take prescription medications or vitamins at camp to use PackMyRx – see PackMyRx Instructions. This requirement permits our Marp (Health Center) to ensure that from the opening of second session campers will receive their meds accurately. To be frank, during first session, many families did not follow this rule, which put an undue burden on our Marp staff and caused unnecessary confusion in the early days of medication distribution. YOU MUST USE PACK MY RX unless you fall under the exceptions listed on the second page of the PackMyRx instructions.  You will be fined $200 if you do not follow these rules. IT IS A CRITICAL HEALTH AND SAFETY CONCERN.  Looking forward to welcoming you soon! L’hitraot B’Palmer, Rabbi Ed Gelb (He/Him/His)CEO, Ramah New England

Categories: Director