At the heart of everything we do, every decision we make, the importance of the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health (MESSH) of every human being is our highest priority. Our camp and Israel Immersive leadership, summer staff, and others supporting our community are professionals who deeply care about our participants and are here for the mission of shaping their lives to create a better world.
In this spirit, we have developed a set of protocols aligned with our values. We believe that as we navigate camp and Israel programs through COVID, our efforts are working to reduce serious spread of the virus. This is why we will continue to implement our policies, be nimble, and adjust to the ever-changing landscape as needed.
The health and safety of every person in our camp and Israel Immersive community is our greatest responsibility, and we take that sacred role very seriously. We know it’s hard on everyone when even one participant or staff member is impacted. Our focus needs to be for the preservation of the full community. We continue to learn how to manage this unprecedented moment and remain agile.
We are so grateful for your partnership, support, and love of our summer immersive programs.
HOW DECISIONS ARE BEING MADE
An experienced team of URJ Camp & Israel Immersive leadership is overseeing the development of COVID guidance for all URJ programs. They work with the local medical staff and our system-wide URJ Medical Advisory Team (MAT) who have expertise and specialization in public health and infectious diseases. Each member of the MAT has served in residence as a URJ camp doctor, so they are particularly familiar with our camp and Israel Immersive medical practices. We also rely on the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and American Camp Association (ACA) for best practices. These teams have worked to develop system-wide guidelines and protocols that preserve the camp and immersive experience, protect our camp communities, and use evidence-based best practices. We believe in our strategies, which are guided by industry-specific best practices, our URJ medical advisors, and the best scientific data and tools we have at our disposal. This includes:
- Our COVID vaccination policy
- Adaptive testing regimen, which we are modifying to meet the needs of each camp/Israel Immersive community and an evolving COVID landscape
- Plans for isolation if a positive case occurs in programs
- Non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) such as masking, physical distancing, and a focus on outdoor programming
We are using regular surveillance testing to ensure that we know when COVID is in the community and can act quickly and intentionally to slow the spread of the disease. The frequency and implementation of this surveillance testing is based on the unique situation of each program based on the length of program, risk factors, mitigation opportunities, and community spread.
For example, on our Israel trips, where ongoing exposure to the outside world is significant, we will test more frequently to find any cases in our community. When we have confirmed cases within a community, we will appropriately increase the frequency of our testing.
We realize that many individuals and families have adapted to life with COVID, and we too aim for the least disrupted summer possible. COVID in a communal living environment is nothing like COVID at school or work or in our daily lives. The CDC states that guidelines for communal living environments (and overnight camps/immersive experiences in particular) require more stringency and are not the same as guidelines for individuals and families. Aggressively mitigating COVID spread in a communal living environment like camp and our Israel Immersives are the only way to operate at all this summer.
If we were to loosen our COVID protocols, COVID would spread rapidly, threatening the staffing ratios, safety, and sustainability of our communities. For example, if a camp has a COVID outbreak among the kitchen staff and we no longer have the capacity to provide meals, camp can’t continue to operate. At the same time, we are trying to be nimble, to ensure the highest level of safety while preserving as much of the camp/Israel Immersive experience as possible.
To protect URJ camp and Israel Immersive communities from further spread, and to simultaneously ensure that any COVID+ community member receives appropriate care during their isolation period, we are separating COVID positive community members from the community. In our camps we are requiring that all camp families plan for retrieving their family member(s) from camp to isolate at home (or elsewhere off campus) if they test positive for COVID at camp. For our Israel programs, we have secured an outside facility and are providing care to COVID positive participants and American staff there.
COVID+ community members can return when they test negative for COVID by rapid antigen test, on 2 consecutive days. They can begin testing daily after 5 days of isolation and can return to camp once 2 consecutive days produce negative RA test results. The COVID Leader at each program will discuss this isolation plan individually with each affected family. Information about the potential return to camp will be individualized by program-specific variables, such as session length.
Day 0 = symptom onset OR positive test, whichever comes first
As an example:
Day 0: 6/1 symptom onset/positive test
Day 1: 6/2
Day 2: 6/3
Day 3: 6/4
Day 4: 6/5
Day 5: 6/6
Day 6: 6/7 1st day of potential negative test
Day 7: 6/8 2nd day of potential negative test, earliest possible return