Oregon Summer Camps, Programs Altering Plans Due To COVID-19

By Elizabeth Miller (OPB)
Portland, Ore. May 19, 2020 10:03 p.m.

Oregon released rules for summer camps and summer school amid COVID-19 Friday. With less than a month of school left for most Oregonians, organizations and school districts are making plans for keeping students safe.

Under new guidance from the Oregon Health Authority, camps must be limited to 10 children. Camps are permitted to host multiple groups of 10 if they can space the groups out appropriately. Extensive cleaning is required to operate camps, and children and staff will be monitored for COVID-19 symptoms.


Overnight camps are not allowed.

The CDC has released a decision-making tool to help camp organizers figure out if they should open.

Some organizations have made the decision to cancel summer camps for the year, including the Oregon Zoo and the Humane Society.

Others are working to bring online offerings. Even though Portland Parks & Recreation has canceled all summer camps, they are offering a video series called Stay and Play.

Catlin Gabel has also canceled in-person camps, but plans to announce online offerings this week.

For the Native Youth Wellness Warrior Camp in Grande Ronde, in-person camp is canceled, but Native Wellness Institute will hold a virtual camp.

"We know that we will be back next year and the goodness will continue," NWI said in a statement on its website.

A girl runs to meet her group at Wellness Warrior Camp in Grand Ronde, Ore., Monday, June 24, 2019. Native Wellness Institute canceled 2020's in-person camp due to COVID-19.

A girl runs to meet her group at Wellness Warrior Camp in Grand Ronde, Ore., Monday, June 24, 2019. Native Wellness Institute canceled 2020's in-person camp due to COVID-19.

Bradley W. Parks / OPB

And some organizations are still figuring out what to do this summer. That includes Trackers Earth, an organization known for its outdoor programs; they will likely offer a mix of online and in-person camps.

“Our goal is to maintain the integrity of our camp activities while meeting all safety guidelines,” Trackers Earth founder Tony Deis said in a statement to OPB. “This means that some camp programs will change slightly, but our team members are creatively working to make sure our programs remain robust. This takes time.”

Deis said the organization will have the majority of its plans in place by next week, when they’ll start reaching out to parents individually.

On Friday, the Oregon Department of Education released guidance for summer schools and in-person classes for the rest of the school year.

Schools will be allowed to host in-person classes for students earning credit to graduate and for other students where distance learning “cannot support or approximate the requirements for required instruction or assessment.”

That includes students who need career technical education certifications or assessments for special education or English language proficiency.

But there are rules. The number of in-person meetings should be minimal, and students must be in self-contained classrooms with 10 or fewer students.

Beaverton School District may have limited in-person classes for students in its special education extended year program.

As for summer school, ODE said “districts should prioritize the students most impacted by the extended closure.”

Beaverton and Salem-Keizer schools say they will continue with distance learning for summer school.

Oregon’s largest school district, Portland Public Schools, has not yet finalized its plan for summer education.