Every day now, we are seeing updates on Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, and how it is affecting schools, businesses and everyday activities. But how are you supposed to plan for things like summer vacation, summer camps and summer activities that will inevitably be here in just a few months? The truth is, there is still much to be learned about COVID-19 in general, and even experts are reluctant to speculate on the long-term effects.
For more than 40 years, Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs (JKCP) has been welcoming students to our summer programs on major university campuses across the country. Through these years we have gained experience in safely and successfully navigating previous global outbreaks such as H1N1 and SARS. In order to help you become better educated and prepared, make a plan for summer and make informed decisions for your family this summer; we have created this blog 10 Questions to Ask Your Summer Camp About Coronavirus (COVID-19).
This list of questions is meant to serve as a guide to making informed decisions, not just about the virus, but also about general health and safety practices of the organization you are speaking with. It can also be used for any summer camp or program your child is already registered to attend or you are thinking about signing them up for.
Please read through the list below. Our expert Program Advisors are also here as a resource to answer any questions you may have.
10 Questions to Ask Your Summer Camp About Coronavirus (COVID-19):
1. Can you tell me about your medical staff? What are their qualifications?
- A great way to ensure your child is safe and healthy while at camp is to know there are trained medical professionals on staff who are directing the medical decisions and procedures on campus. Counselors and even directors are often not trained and licensed medical professionals. Leave the medical decisions to those with certifications. Ideally, the health staff will have either a Doctor or Registered Nurse (RN) certification.
- Trained medical staff not only know how to treat sick (or injured) students, but will be able to recognize signs and symptoms earlier than other staff. They are also able to put a plan in place should your child be sick or be able to protect other students should another child get sick.
- At JKCP, we have licensed medical professionals on staff directing all medical decisions. Along with onsite medical professionals, since we operate exclusively on university campuses, there are many resources available such as on-site Student Health Services and University Hospitals close by.
2. What medical resources are close to your campus?
- Summer camp and program settings vary. Some are in the middle of the woods, far from other resources and other programs are in cities near world renown medical facilities. Ask what resources are close by that would provide treatment to your child, should they get sick.
- Some programs, like JKCP’s, operate on the foremost and prominent university campuses in the US, most of which have hospitals and medical facilities on campus. In Philadelphia, we are just minutes from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), consistently ranked among the Best Children’s Hospitals in the Nation by U.S. News & World Report, as well as the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, Penn Medicine, also ranked among the Nation's Top Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. Both are excellent facilities, prepared to treat any type of injury, illness or sickness.
3. There are many organizations publishing information and recommendations on COVID-19. What protocols and procedures will you follow if COVID-19 is on campus? What parties are influencing summer camp decisions?
- The World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC, the Federal Government, State Officials, and many others are all constantly publishing information about COVID-19. While most information is common amongst all parties, ask your summer camp or program who they are getting their information from and who will influence decisions about the summer. We’ve seen local authorities ban public gatherings. We’ve seen schools cancel classes and substitute with remote learning. We’ve seen universities take drastic actions to limit non-essential travel.
- In some cases, the decision to allow students to attend the program will be out of your camp's control. If local officials or universities ban public gatherings, this would cause a large ripple effect for summer camps. Some camps and programs will be able to make alternate arrangements on other campuses or locations. Ask if there are alternate plans in place and what those might be.
4. Is remote learning an option for the summer?
- If you are attending a strictly academic summer program, there are many technologies that will allow educators to continue teaching the courses as planned. Many schools, including major universities like Stanford, have temporarily transitioned to eLearning. Ask your summer program if this is an option should there be a total cancellation of a program, or if this is an option you can already choose.
- While eLearning is great in some capacities and for some programs, there are many more situations in the summer camp environment where this is not appropriate and will not give you, or the student, the experience you desire and signed up for. It is relatively easy to live stream a lecture by a teacher. But how can you replace multi-person discussions, physical activity sessions, and the social environment of a summer camp? You can’t. We have been running summer programs for over 40 years now, and trust us, the in-person bonds and friendships that students make, are often what has the most long-lasting impact and memories. Ask what options are available but be understanding that the complex nature of summer camps might make eLearning difficult.
5. What happens if my last day of school is extended later into the summer due to coronavirus? Do you have any other options and will you allow me to start a program later in the summer?
- Some summer programs start shortly after school ends. For those of you with snowy winters, you know that school is often extended into the summer due to snow days. If days of school are canceled due to Coronavirus, we also expect to see school years get extended. First, ask your school what their policy is regarding days missed and if the school year may go later than originally planned. Once you understand this, ask your summer camp or program what options they can offer if this happens.
- Some programs offer multiple sessions. Ask if your summer camp will allow you to change sessions in the case of a school year extension and ask if there will be a fee involved for this. Be careful though. While there may be additional sessions in the summer, the late summer sessions are often the busiest and there is a chance your camp or your preferred classes will sell out. If you think this is the case, carefully consider the timing of what you are currently registered for or will register for and consider a later session now.
6. I am nervous to sign up now. If I decide to wait, what is the latest I can wait in order to register?
- Many summer programs have deadlines to register or class size limits. These might be due to host campus rules and rosters that need to be submitted or the limitation may simply be that the program you are interested in will fill up. Ask your camp about previous timelines and when sessions typically become full. This will give you a good sense, but not a guarantee that you can still register later.
- Also, consider that some summer camps and programs offer tuition discounts if you register early. Compare the early sign-up discount to the cost of travel insurance. You may save enough by registering early, to purchase insurance and have the financial flexibility you desire.
7. Are there ways to protect our investment in camp tuition and travel expenses?
- Much like the travel insurance you would opt in for when booking a summer vacation, there are a few options available that may give you peace of mind, knowing that you can get money back for your tuition and travel expenses should something happen. We will outline the options below, however the most important thing to keep in mind here is that you must read the fine print of any Cancellation or Insurance Policy you are considering. Some are “cancel for any reason” and others have exclusions. When looking at exclusions, look for terms like pandemics and infectious or communicable diseases.
- Consider purchasing Cancellation Insurance from your camp or program.
Some camps and programs will offer their own cancellation insurance. This is often a good way to protect your investment in tuition, but typically does not cover your travel expenses. Be sure to ask the following questions:
- How much does the cancellation insurance cost?
- Are there any restrictions or is it a 'cancel for any reason' policy?
- How much will you get back in the case of a cancellation? Is it a full refund, a percentage or pro-rated as summer approaches?
- JKCP's Cancellation Insurance Available to Students Attending Programs at Villanova University and Haverford College Only
To best serve our families, we are extending the opportunity to purchase cancellation insurance, even if families have already registered. This is a change from our previous policy. Cancellation insurance may be purchased for $125 per week for residential programs or $50 per week for day programs. The Cancellation insurance fee(s) and 20% deposit are non-refundable, but the remaining tuition will be refunded if you withdraw/cancel prior to your program's start date. Cancellation Insurance coverage begins when the balance is paid in full. View the details.
- Consider Purchasing Insurance from a Third Party. There are some third party insurance companies that offer policies to cover summer camp and program tuition along with travel insurance. Many of the companies that offer travelers insurance will also protect your tuition. Do a Google search of “Summer Camp Travel Insurance”. You will find many options. Be sure to ask the following questions:
- What are the restrictions regarding “covered events” and will I be required to provide documentation? Be sure to ask about what types of incidents are valid reasons for making a claim. The difference between technical terms such as self-isolation, travel ban and quarantines can determine if a claim is covered or not. Ask these questions and be specific.
- Are there any limitations on purchasing insurance after I’ve already paid tuition? Some policies require you to purchase the policy before or at the time you pay tuition. If you’ve already paid tuition, your policy may not cover tuition already paid.
- Here are two examples of insurance we found:
- For U.S. Residents: https://www.aplusplans.com/index.php/consumer/index/sobel11/
- For Non - U.S. Residents: https://travmark.com/international-insurance/
8. How can I stay updated on COVID-19?
- There are many resources to keep you updated on COVID-19. Below are just a few:
- The CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- The WHO: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019.
- The FDA: https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-issues/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19
- Also check for news from your home state, the state which your summer camp is located, the local government, and your travel companies including airlines, bus and train companies.
9. What other resources do you suggest we follow?
- We’ve seen some great information out there. Check out this piece from the National Association of School Psychologists who published “Talking to Children about COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource "
10. How will my camp keep me updated with any changes or new information?
- Ask your summer camp how they will keep you updated with any new information or changes, should there be any. Will they proactively reach out to you or do you need to follow them on social media or through email for updates? You should be following your summer camp on social media for those great summer photos and important pre-summer announcements!
- At JKCP, our goal is to keep you informed about how we are closely monitoring the development of COVID-19. As always, we will follow the protocols set in place by the university campuses where our programs take place as well as city, state and federal guidelines. We will continue to work closely with various university departments including student health services, public safety, the provost office, risk management and conference services as we approach summer and student arrivals. We will keep you updated with any developments, including refund policies, as soon as the information becomes available via email and online.
At this time, we have not made any changes to our summer 2020 program offerings. JKCP will host all listed programs unless the universities or governments in these areas impose restrictions for the summer.
This information is believed to be accurate and correct, however, it is subject to change without notice. © 2020 Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs.