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Camps, play dates, team sports: This is the Pa. state guidance on what kids can do in the yellow phase

Generally, the guidance boils down to this: It’s safe for parents to think of the yellow phase like traffic light; it’s about taking it slowly. And what that looks like will depend on your risk tolerance.

This is what kids are allowed to do during the different phases of reopening.
This is what kids are allowed to do during the different phases of reopening.Read moreGlaxoSmithKline and the Franklin Institute

Gov. Tom Wolf has released guidelines about what summer programs will look like as Pennsylvania continues to reopen. The guidelines are designed to help parents begin to sketch out what their children’s summer will look like as we move from red, shelter-in-place mode to the more cautious, but perhaps-you-can-have-a-play-date yellow phase.

So what will be allowed and what does that mean for our kids? What does camp look like? Can kids who live on the same block play with one another?

One thing is clear: Even with loosening restrictions, this summer will look different. Generally, the guidance boils down to this: It’s safe for parents to think of the yellow phase like a traffic light; it’s about taking it slowly. And what that looks like will depend on your risk tolerance.

“This is a phase where we are asking people to use common sense,” said Sara Goulet, deputy press secretary for Wolf. “[We should be] thinking how every action we take will affect our family, our community, and our neighbors.”

» READ MORE: Summer in Philly is almost here. But what it will look like is an open question.

Starting June 5, all Pennsylvania counties are in either the yellow or green phase.

So it’s time to look ahead. Here is what your child’s summer may look like, according to Wolf’s guidelines.

Is camp allowed?

Yes, in the yellow phase, day camps will be allowed to open.

Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation Department is working with Department of Public Health officials to develop plans for a modified summer day camp season.

Overnight camps are not allowed to open until the green phase.

» READ MORE: Parents and kids fear a COVID summer without camp

Here’s what camps need to do if they want to open: Summer programs in the yellow or green phases will have to develop a written health and safety plan that follows the CDC guidance for Youth and Summer Camps and post the plan on the summer program’s publicly available website before they’re allowed to start taking kids.

Will my child have to wear a mask in day camp?

No. Assuming that camp organizers are taking the necessary precautions, children will not have to wear masks when participating in group activities. Those measures could include daily screening such as taking kids’ temperatures, staggering arrivals, drop-offs, and pickups, and daily cleaning and disinfecting of all indoor facilities. “Operators understand that it’s going to be very difficult to ask young children to wear masks when it’s 90 degrees outside,” explained Tracey Campanini, deputy secretary for DHS’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning.

Staff and adults will be asked to wear a cloth mask at all times. The guidance says that children over the age of 13 may be asked to wear masks in certain situations, at the discretion of counselors and staff. But the guidance doesn’t specify what those situations are.

» READ MORE: How to get your kid to wear a face mask

What about organized team sports?

Not yet. Organized team sports — such as Little League — are allowed only in counties in the green phase. (What counts as team sports? That, according to the guidance, is defined in the guidelines as “physical activity directed by adult or youth leaders that involves rules and formal practice and competition. This includes school and club sports as well as youth and adult formal activities.” But “physical activity conducted as part of summer programming is allowed” and any activities with little or no contact are encouraged.

» READ MORE: How to wear face masks in hot weather

Is there a cap on the number of children allowed in camp?


What will social distancing look like in summer camp?

Children playing together will not have to stay six feet away from one another as long as the camp is taking certain precautions, such as keeping kids in the same groups. The guidance also recommends that children stick with the same counselor or group leader each day.

What about outside of camp: Do I have to socially distance in my neighborhood?

This is where common sense comes in, Goulet said. “There is a certain amount of thought that we should be putting into making decisions about letting people in your circle,” she said. This is a time to have a frank conversation with parents: Has anyone in either household been sick? Is there anyone at home who is in a risk category or has preexisting conditions? During the red phase, did you practice social distancing? The yellow phase is about caution. We are not out of the woods yet, Goulet emphasized, so we have to make smart decisions to keep our family and communities safe.

Can I take my child to the park?

Yes. Camps can take children to public parks in counties that are in the yellow and green phases. Parents can take children to the park, too, but they should stay six feet away from families they don’t know.

Playgrounds and athletic courts won’t necessarily be open, even when the county is in the yellow phase. That will still be up to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health to decide what’s allowed to open.

Can we go swimming?

Yes. Public bathing places and other community pools are permitted to operate in counties in the yellow and green phases, provided they follow the CDC guidelines that include encouraging all staff, patrons, and swimmers to wash their hands often and cover coughs and sneezes. Face masks are not required in the pool as it would cause difficulty breathing.

That said, there is one hitch: The City of Philadelphia will not be opening pools this summer because the city was unable to hire and pay lifeguards because of the coronavirus.