Texas to Provide State-Licensed Summer Camps With Rapid COVID-19 Tests One Year After Pandemic Forced Mass Closures

James Miller, 9, finishes his kinetic energy project during Secret Scientists summer camp at the Austin Children’s Museum. The COVID-19 tests will be voluntary for both staff and campers. (Erich Schlegel for The Texas Tribune)

This article is published in partnership with TexasTribune.org

Texas will provide state-licensed summer camps with COVID-19 rapid tests in an effort to prevent potential outbreaks, Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement Tuesday.

Last summer, most summer camps were shuttered across the country because of the pandemic.

The tests will be voluntary for both staff and campers. Summer camp organizers need to apply to participate.

“As normalcy returns to Texas, we must remain vigilant against the spread of COVID-19 by identifying positive cases and mitigating any potential outbreaks,” Abbott said in the statement. “I encourage qualifying summer camps to apply for this program so that we can continue to keep Texans safe.”

This comes after Texas ended most of its coronavirus-related restrictions earlier this month.

Texas has a series of health recommendations revised this month for summer camp operators, including social distancing rules, prohibiting parent or guardian visits except to pick up or drop off a child and separating campers and staff into smaller cohorts that do not mix for the duration of the camp. Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says summer camps can reopen safely if they follow a number of protocols.

Staff members or campers who test positive should be immediately isolated and then removed from the camp, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Parents are told to pick up their children within eight hours if they become infected.

Many parents across Texas rely on summer camps — some which operate daytime hours and not overnight — for child care while school is out for summer break.

Reese Oxner is a breaking news reporter at the Texas Tribune, the only member-supported, digital-first, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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