NEW YORK — Kids at summer camps can skip wearing masks outdoors, with some exceptions, federal health officials said Friday.
Children who aren’t fully vaccinated should still wear masks outside when they’re in crowds or in sustained close contact with others — and when they are inside, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Fully vaccinated kids need not wear masks indoors or outside, the agency said.
The guidelines open the door to a more conventional camp experience and came out in the nick of time, just before camps start opening in some parts of the country, said Tom Rosenberg, president of the American Camp Association.
The guidance is the first in a wave of updates that will incorporate the CDC’s recent decisions on masks and social distancing. Earlier this month, the agency said Americans don’t have to be as cautious about masks and distancing outdoors, and that fully vaccinated people don’t need masks in most situations.
Previously, the CDC advised that just about all people at camps should wear masks with only a few exceptions, like while they are eating, drinking or swimming.
But that was before adults began getting shots in December, and before the U.S. government authorized the Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds earlier this month.
About 2.5 million of the roughly 17 million U.S. kids in that age group have gotten at least one shot. A second dose is also required, three weeks after the first, and then it takes two more weeks before the vaccine fully takes effect.
That means that it will be midsummer before kids in that age bracket are fully vaccinated. When that happens, “it’s going to be a camp experience that is much more like (before the pandemic),” said Erin Sauber-Schatz, who leads the CDC task force that prepares recommendations designed to keep Americans safe from COVID-19.
The new guidance also says social distancing — staying 3 to 6 feet from others — is recommended for the unvaccinated, but not for the vaccinated.