CDC study examines how Ramah summer camps averted COVID outbreaks

JTA – The Centers for Disease Control released a study conducted by the Camp Ramah Network Medical Committee, highlighting highly effective security measures in Jewish camps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 last summer.

Between June and August, nine campers in Ramah tested positive for the virus, out of a total of more than 7,000 children and adolescents in nine of the 10 camps in the system affiliated with the conservative movement, according to the study.

“Three of the nine cases were in vaccinated staff and six in unvaccinated campers aged 8 to 14 years old. The three cases of staff members were identified before the campers arrived, ”says the study summary. COVID-19 vaccines are currently not offered to children under the age of 12.

In the words of Ramah’s 10 authors, including several licensed physicians, the study results “underscore important guiding principles for COVID-19 prevention protocols in schools and youth.”

The authors point out that a combination of compulsory testing before attending camp, repeated testing during camp, frequent hand washing, and the setting up of “pods” or isolated groups of campers, has led to a been successful.

Campers in a specific cabin became a pod and were allowed to interact freely without masks or other restrictions. After series of tests, several pods have merged over time. Three camps have achieved a camp-wide “pod expansion”.

After closing completely like most other Jewish and non-Jewish night camps at the height of the pandemic in 2020, Ramah has restarted this summer.

Rabbi Mitchell Cohen, national director of the National Ramah Commission, described the process – which included rotating groups of campers in prayer sessions and placing plastic dividers in the dining rooms – at the Jewish Telegraph Agency in April, calling it “absolutely exhausting but incredibly exhilarating.

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