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Vaccination Policy & Covid Prevention Protocols

Ramah Darom’s Medical Committee has established a set of policies and protocols to keep our campers, retreat attendees, guests and staff healthy while on our campus. A shared living and eating environment increases the risk of transmission of infectious diseases; the Committee’s key objective is to avoid introduction and spread at Ramah Darom programs. 

Please scroll down for Covid-19 prevention protocols specific to retreats and summer camp, and Ramah Darom’s policy for all other vaccinations. These protocols were last updated on November 4, 2022 and are regularly reviewed and updated by the Medical Committee. Any substantial changes affecting an upcoming Ramah Darom program will be communicated directly to attendees prior to the start of the program.

 

Covid Prevention Protocols for Ramah Darom Retreats

The following Covid-19 Prevention Protocols are currently in place for all Ramah Darom Retreats:

 

Pre-arrival Testing:  Testing remains our primary strategy to avoid introducing Covid into our programs. Every Ramah Darom retreat attendee, guest and staff member is required to:

  1. Get a pre-arrival Covid PCR test in the 72 hours before arriving at the Ramah Darom campus; AND
  2. Take an at-home Covid rapid test on the day of arrival

Retreat attendees and guests will be asked to show confirmation of both PCR and rapid test negative results on arrival to the Ramah Darom campus (a picture on a phone is perfect).

Exception for those who have recently had Covid-19: Anyone who has had Covid-19 in the 60 days prior to the start of a retreat is not required to get a PCR test but must still take an at-home rapid test on the day of arrival. On the retreat registration form, attendees will be asked to provide the date of their recent Covid infection. Attendees and guests who are exempt from PCR testing will be asked to show confirmation of their recent Covid infection, in addition to a negative at-home rapid test, on arrival to the Ramah Darom campus. If confirmation of infection in the previous 60 days is not available, attendees and guests should follow normal testing guidelines above (ie. a PCR test in the 72 hours before arriving and a day of arrival rapid test). If the PCR test is positive due to a recent infection, two negative rapid tests on the day of arrival will be required.

Vaccination and Boosters: We strongly recommend that all retreat attendees and guests ages 6 months and older be up to date on their Covid vaccination as defined by the CDC. On the retreat registration form, attendees will be asked to provide the date of their most recent Covid vaccination/booster. Note that all Ramah Darom full-time staff are required to be vaccinated.

Travel guidance: We strongly recommend that those flying, using public transportation or car services wear a mask at all times during travel prior to arrival at Ramah Darom.

If you receive a positive Covid test result in the days leading up to your arrival at Ramah Darom and are unable to attend a program, unfortunately we are not able to refund your registration fees. We highly recommend purchasing Trip Protection Insurance.

Covid Prevention Protocols for Summer Camp

The Ramah Darom Medical Committee has developed the following working assumptions for summer 2023. These protocols will be continuously reviewed based on the latest developments and may need to be adjusted:

We will likely require all campers and programming staff to stay up to date on their Covid vaccination as defined by the CDC.

We will likely treat Covid the way we treat any other camp virus. That is, campers or staff who have a fever or are feeling too ill to participate in camp activities will stay in the Marp (Health Center) until their symptoms are resolving, but we will not require mild or asymptomatic cases to isolate. We don’t plan to ask families to pick up campers with mild Covid cases; rather, in the same way we manage other illness at camp, only campers who are too ill to be safely treated in our Marp will need to be picked up to recover at home.

We will likely require pre-arrival testing to avoid knowingly bringing Covid into Camp. We have not yet decided if the required testing will be PCR or home rapid tests or both.

We will likely not do regular surveillance testing during Camp. However, we have not yet decided if we will test symptomatic campers or staff for Covid during the summer.

The working assumptions above will be continuously reviewed based on the latest developments and may need to be adjusted. If the Committee decides to make substantial changes to our protocols, we will share the updates with families and give you the opportunity to withdraw your campers with a full refund if you are not comfortable with the changes.

 

For more details, please read this update from our Medical Committee that was sent to all camp families on November 4, 2023.

 

Note that if your camper receives a positive Covid test result in the days leading up to their arrival at Ramah Darom and is unable to attend or must arrive late, we unfortunately are not able to refund or pro-rate their registration fees. We highly recommend purchasing Trip Protection Insurance.

Policy for All Other Vaccinations

Among our most cherished Jewish values is the importance of preserving life and maintaining health. Reducing the risk of vaccine-preventable illnesses from entering any of our programs is the single most effective strategy we can take to protect the health and wellbeing of our community. This goal can only be accomplished through the appropriate vaccination of all those in residence at Ramah Darom. Despite the best precautions taken to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, a shared living and eating environment increases the risk of transmission. While we respect that individual families may choose to forgo vaccinations, we cannot compromise the safety of our community as a whole.

Ramah Darom requires that all individuals, families and programmatic staff attending or working at any Ramah Darom program (including summer camp and retreats) adhere to the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices (ACIP) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as outlined in US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) Recommended Immunization Schedules. You can find the complete Immunization Schedules at these links:

CDC Recommended Immunization Schedule for Age 18 Years and Younger
CDC Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule for Age 19 Years and Older

If you are not sure which vaccines you or your child(ren) have received, please ask your healthcare provider. Note: Not all states have the same requirements, but ALL CDC recommended immunizations are required at Ramah Darom.

Camp Ramah Darom campers are required to upload proof of all immunizations. The retreat registration agreement asks guests to affirm that everyone included on their registration meets all immunization requirements. 

Vaccination Exemptions

There are exceptions to the Ramah Darom vaccination policy, but they are extremely rare. We recognize that individuals who have had a documented severe allergy or severe adverse reaction to a particular vaccine may not be able to complete the immunization schedule outlined by the AAP and the CDC. Additionally, individuals with medical conditions such as congenital immunodeficiency or HIV, cancer and who are receiving chemotherapy, transplant patients, and persons receiving immunosuppressive drugs and chronic steroids also may not be able to receive certain vaccines.

We are happy to discuss case-by-case management of these circumstances of medical contraindication to partial or complete vaccination.

Process for Vaccinations Exemption Requests for Summer Camp

Any exemption requests, including requests for exemptions from the Covid vaccine or booster, must be submitted by April 1, 2023. Exemption requests should be addressed to the Ramah Darom Medical Committee and emailed to Ramah Darom’s CEO, wlevitt@ramahdarom.org. Requests must include current documentation from a Physician (MD or DO), or a Pediatric/Family Practice Advanced Practice Nurse (ARNP or PNP), describing the reason for exemption from immunization. Requests will be kept confidential and reviewed by our Medical Committee Chair, in consultation with members of the Ramah Darom Medical Committee. Ramah Darom is committed to ensuring a safe and healthy community and only grants vaccination exemptions in very rare circumstances.

Process for Vaccinations Exemption Requests for Retreats

Any exemption requests should be addressed to the Ramah Darom Medical Committee and emailed to Ramah Darom’s CEO at wlevitt@ramahdarom.org at least 30 days before the start of the retreat. Requests must include current documentation from a Physician (MD or DO), or a Pediatric/Family Practice Advanced Practice Nurse (ARNP or PNP), describing the reason for exemption from immunization. Requests will be kept confidential and reviewed by our Medical Committee Chair, in consultation with members of the Ramah Darom Medical Committee as required. Ramah Darom is committed to ensuring a safe and healthy community and only grants vaccination exemptions in very rare circumstances.

Rental Groups

Each year dozens of groups rent the Ramah Darom campus to run their own programs. While we highly encourage all groups renting our campus to adopt their own vaccination policy and Covid protocols, the above Ramah Darom policies and protocols do not apply to rental groups. Note that all Ramah Darom full-time staff are required to be vaccinated.

Thank you for keeping our Ramah Darom community healthy!