COVID Updates
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Last updated: December 1, 2020

Usdan is planning for an in-person 2021 summer. Our sleeping campus will awaken once more with creativity and laughter. We can’t wait. 

The pandemic is still with us and will be for the foreseeable future. As much as we would like to run camp the way we always have, given what we know about the virus and the development of a vaccine, this will most likely not be possible. 

For this reason, we are following the most conservative approach and taking all the precautions we would take if we were opening camp tomorrow. We aim to be as educated and prepared as possible so we can run camp safely. 

We will take into consideration the status of in-person learning in Long Island and NYC schools, plus guidance from the American Camp Association, CDC, and New York State and Suffolk County health departments, in making our decisions throughout the year. We know that the guidance is variable and that our learning process will be ongoing. We will amend our health and safety procedures (detailed below) if necessary as new information is released and as we move closer to the summer.

Your child’s safety is a top priority, and we want to keep you informed and updated.

This page will feature up-to-date changes to our program and operational procedures and will be updated regularly as our policies evolve in tandem with local and state guidance.

We will send emails when an update is posted. If you wish to be on our email list, please complete the below form. 


Click any of the following links to learn more about our COVID health and safety procedures.






Until we hear otherwise from New York State and local Suffolk County officials, our plan is to incorporate physical distancing, along with other non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), into our camp day, which will mean operating at approximately 50 percent of our normal capacity.*

We will adopt a cohort model in order to limit contact among students. This means students will be with the same group, 15 maximum, for the full camp day including their Major, Recreational Activity, and lunchtime. 

While there will be some program changes to ensure our community’s health and safety, we promise never to lose sight of what makes Usdan a unique summer camp. We remain an immersive arts experience, focusing on both creative and social-emotional growth, which we know will be more important this summer than ever. 

*With half our usual number of spots available, we encourage you to enroll your child as soon as possible to ensure that they have the chance to experience Usdan this summer.


Risk-Free Enrollment

Enrollment opens December 14 for families that were enrolled in our 2020 camp program and December 21 for all other families.

We have instituted a new risk-free refund policy in which families can withdraw their child at any time and receive a full refund of tuition paid.*

*Usdan will regularly reassess this policy as the year moves on. Refunds do not include credit-card fees.

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COVID Health & Safety Procedures

The following procedures were written and will be updated in accordance with the American Camp Association COVID Field Guide for Camps, the New York State Day Camp Guidelines, guidelines from the Association of Camp Nursing and the CDC, and recommendations from Usdan’s own nurses.


Healthy pre-camp behaviors translate into a healthy camp life. Here are some things you can do to help your child have a great camp experience.

  • If your child is showing signs of illness, such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose, coughing, or sneezing, keep the child home and contact camp. This greatly reduces the spread of illness at camp and also supports your child’s recovery.
  • Teach your child to sneeze and cough in their sleeve and to wash their hands often while at camp, especially before eating and after using the restroom. If you really want to make an impact, teach your child to accompany handwashing with another behavior: keeping their hands away from their face.
  • Follow social-distancing guidelines and remember that each gathering and interaction your child has outside of camp can affect those in camp.  



  • Students and staff will be asked to self-monitor for 14 days before their first day of camp. Parents will be asked to vouch for their child’s health upon arrival on the first day, and staff will vouch for theirs. 
  • Students and staff will be required to complete a health-screening questionnaire every morning before arriving at camp.  
  • Temperatures will be taken upon arrival for all students and staff.
  • As usual, a health form will be required before the start of camp reflecting a recent physical.
  • If a staff member or student is suspected of having COVID-19 based on the daily screening, they will be asked to leave immediately. If they are unable to, they will be isolated until they are able to secure a ride home.
  • Students or staff suspected of having COVID-19 must show a negative test result or clearance from a physician before returning to camp.



  • Studios will be cleaned and disinfected at the end of each day using EPA-approved disinfectant, paying careful attention to high-touch surfaces such as tables and door handles.
  • High-touch surfaces in shared spaces such as the changing rooms at the pools will be cleaned and disinfected between groups. 
  • Shared spaces that welcome more than one group each day will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected at the end of each day. 
  • Bathrooms will be cleaned and disinfected multiple times a day, with a more thorough cleaning done at the end of each day.
  • Shared items in the Recreational Arts Department will be disinfected between groups and a more thorough cleaning will be done at the end of each day.



The risk of viral spread at camp will be significantly reduced by layering the following NPI strategies:

  1. handwashing and sanitizing
  2. mask-wearing
  3. physical distancing and adopting a cohort model
  4. remaining outdoors

1. Handwashing & Sanitizing

Students and staff will be asked to wash hands at regular intervals including:

  • before eating food 
  • upon entering any new studio or space
  • after being in contact with someone who may have been sick
  • after touching high-touch surfaces (such as railings, doorknobs, and counters)
  • after using the restroom
  • after using common items, such as sports equipment, computer keyboards and mice, and art supplies.
  • after coughing, sneezing, or blowing their nose


2. Mask-wearing

Students and staff will be required to wear masks at all times, especially when unable to keep six feet away from another person. Mask breaks will be incorporated into the day. Masks will not be worn in the pool. We recommend packing multiple masks to change into, as they can become moist from sweat and breath during the day.


3. Physically Distancing & Adopting a Cohort Model

Each Major group will remain static and not interact with other groups during their two-week of time together or 4-week or 8-week session, depending on the Major. Groups will remain at least six feet away from any other group at all times. 

Groups and students will avoid sharing art supplies and equipment as much as possible. If something must be shared, it will be disinfected between each use. 


4. Remaining Outdoors

It has been shown that the transmission of the virus is much less outdoors than indoors. Classrooms with limited fresh air will not be used this summer. All of the open-air studios will be used, which may result in classes taking place in different Department areas on the campus. Faculty will attempt to keep students outside as much as possible when activities allow.  



  • If a student or staff member is suspected of having COVID-19, that person will be immediately isolated until they can safely return home. 
  • Students or staff suspected of having COVID-19 must show a negative PCR test result or clearance from a physician before returning to camp.
  • The Suffolk County Department of Health Services will be notified of any confirmed cases, and we will follow all rules and procedures given to us by the authorities. 
  • Contact tracing will commence immediately, and all students and staff who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive will be notified. Information on how families will be notified will be released closer to the start of camp. 



  • Students will be seated one to a row unless they are members of the same household.
  • All students must wear masks when onboard the vehicle.
  • Seats will be assigned, and buses will be boarded back to front and offloaded front to back. 
  • Bus drivers will self-certify that they are fit for work each day. 
  • Bus drivers must wear masks at all times. 
  • Bus drivers will wipe down high-touch areas such as seats and seatbelts after each run. 
  • Bus drivers will spray-disinfect the vehicle at the end of each day.
  • Bus windows will remain open by one inch to allow for ventilation.



Parents, caregivers, and other visitors will not be permitted on campus except to drop off or pick up a student. They will be asked to remain in their vehicles during pickup and drop-off time. 

Vendors will be permitted entrance to drop off any supplies as necessary. Any visitors who require access to the campus will be asked to complete a symptom questionnaire, and their temperature will be taken. 



Although we believe that camp staff may meet state criteria as essential childcare workers eligible for vaccination, we have been encouraged to plan for a 2021 camp season without the benefits of vaccination. At this time, we are not requiring a COVID vaccination, however, depending on school requirements, we reserve the right to change this policy.

We reserve the right to require COVID testing before camp begins and/or during your child’s session depending on how guidelines change.

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COVID Procedures by Department

The following Department-specific procedures will be implemented this summer.

Performances (Dance, Discovery, Music, and Theater)

We regret that live performances with audiences are currently not permitted in the State of New York. We know that performance is an important part of our Dance, Theater, Music, and Discovery Departments and are working on ways to safely share learning and celebrate work, should these guidelines remain. Even if we cannot welcome families to see young artists perform live, we will bring the stage to you via a combination of select livestream and recorded student performances. Should New York State again allow live performances with audiences, we will reevaluate what performances will look like for Summer 2021. Our protocols will then be strictly in line with guidance on safe live performances with audiences. Please keep in mind that guidelines may change right before the summer or even during the summer. 



  • Usdan’s Art studios are either open-air with one side of the building completely open to the environment or well ventilated with sliding doors and plenty of windows to open. Most Art studios are open-air with one side exposed to the natural environment. 
  • Students will have individual setups in their studio to help with physical distancing and sharing of materials will be limited. If sharing is required, materials will be sanitized after every use.



  • The Chess studio is well ventilated with plenty of open windows and doors to keep open.
  • Students playing one another will be masked, and pieces and boards will be sanitized after every use.
  • Faculty will frequently remind students not to touch their faces or masks until they sanitize.



  • Usdan’s Dance studios are open-air with at least one side of the building completely open to the environment.
  • With 15 students maximum in studios, faculty will space students six feet apart at a minimum, and they will stay masked while dancing.
  • Choreography will take physical distancing into account.
  • Shared studios will be sanitized between groups.



  • The Discovery Center is open-air with multiple sides of the building completely open to the natural environment. 
  • Sharing of materials will be limited. If sharing is required, materials will be sanitized after every use.
  • Shared studios will be sanitized between groups.



All Majors

  • Music studios are open-air with at least one side of the building completely open to the natural environment.


Instrumental & Jazz Ensemble

  • Woodwind and brass players will be placed 12 feet apart while playing their instruments. 
  • Students will be instructed on proper hygiene for their specific instruments.
  • String instruments and pianos will be played six feet apart with a mask. 


Vocal Ensemble

  • Vocalists will be positioned 12 feet apart while singing.
  • Students will be masked during rehearsals as much as possible.
  • Faculty will use techniques such as breaking the ensemble into smaller groups to offer a more intimate experience while remaining safe.


Nature & Sustainability

  • Nature & Sustainability students will be outdoors in the Organic Garden or Nature Center unless it is raining. 
  • Spaces for rain days are well ventilated. 



  • Theater studios and performance spaces are open-air with at least one side of the building open to the natural environment. 
  • Students will be placed 12 feet apart while singing.
  • Students will be masked during rehearsals as much as possible.
  • Physical distancing will be incorporated into staging by faculty.


Creative Writing

  • Writing studios are either open-air with at least one side of the building completely open to the natural environment or well-ventilated with plenty of windows to open.
  • Sharing of materials will be limited. If sharing is required, materials will be sanitized after every use.
  • Students have the option of bringing their own computer or tablet. 


Recreational Arts

All Recreational Arts Activities

  • All activities take place outdoors. 
  • Equipment will be sanitized after every use. 
  • Major groups will not mix when they are at their Recreational Arts period.



  • Pools will be sectioned off, and students will need to swim with their Major group distanced from others. 
  • Masks will not be worn in the pool.
  • There will be no swim lessons, so groups can remain together.
  • Students will remain outdoors unless in the changing room, which has no roof, offering plenty of ventilation.
  • The changing room will be sanitized between groups.

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