DHS is pleased to support COVID-19 testing in summer camps through August 31, 2021. This testing support is intended to complement other mitigation efforts. Participation in the program is voluntary and all recreational, educational, and day camps are eligible.
Close contact: being within 6 feet of another person for at least 15 minutes or more.
Asymptomatic: a person who does not report or appear to have any symptoms or signs of illness.
Symptomatic: a person exhibiting symptoms.
Quarantine: is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others.
Isolation: is used to separate people infected with COVID-19 from those who are not infected.
Fully vaccinated: in general, people are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.
Recreational and educational camps: any overnight camp for children and/or adults where food and lodging are provided and has a planned program of recreation or education, and that is offered free of charge or for payment of a fee by a person, or by the state, or a local unit of government. These camps are licensed through the DATCP.
Day camps: A child care program that provides care and supervision to 4 or more children age 3 and older in a seasonal program oriented to the out-of-doors for less than 24 hours a day.
Key reasons to test in camps
- Testing in camps is recommended by CDC Guidance for Operating Youth and Summer Camps During COVID-19. This includes diagnostic testing for symptomatic individuals and close contacts and/or regular screening testing for asymptomatic individuals who are not fully vaccinated (such as weekly screenings or point prevalence screening before traveling to camp).
- Testing helps reduce community spread and keeps camps operating safely. Testing individuals who are symptomatic and close contacts helps enable rapid detection of cases in camps to reduce or prevent outbreaks. A routine screening testing program, which regularly tests people without symptoms or known exposures, is a tool to reduce “silent” spread of the virus and can help campers and staff. According to the CDC, at least 50% of infections are likely contracted from someone that is asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) or pre-symptomatic (not currently showing symptoms but may develop them in the future).
- Testing in camps helps ensure equitable access. Having testing available at camps makes testing available as a trusted, convenient, safe part of the community on a schedule that works for campers, staff and their families without requiring extra appointments or transportation.
- Testing increases confidence in camps’ ability to operate safely. Campers, parents/guardians, and staff may be anxious about attending an in-person camp without knowing whether they may be exposed to infection by others. Testing programs can help calm concerns about camp safety.
Who is able to be tested?
Camp staff (including volunteers) and campers are able to be tested through this program.
When should testing be performed?
Through this program, COVID-19 testing can be performed to:
- Provide screening tests for admission including routine asymptomatic testing during the housing process or testing all campers that are being provided services.
- Test symptomatic individuals.
- Test close contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
- Prevent outbreaks at the camp. All close contacts of the person who tested positive should be tested; ideally testing would be conducted facility-wide.
Preparing for COVID-19 testing: step-by-step instructions
1. Determine the right test for your camp
Testing supplies are available through the DHS COVID-19 testing supplies website. Camps have the option to order and use testing supplies that best meet their needs for campers and staff, including rapid point of care tests and highly accurate lab-based tests. Approved testing at camps aligns with CDC Guidance for Operating Youth and Summer Camps During COVID-19.
Highly accurate, lab-based molecular tests
Laboratory-based molecular tests are the gold standard test. Conducted in a specialized environment by trained professionals, these tests are the most accurate tests available. These shelf-stable supplies must be return-shipped or couriered to the laboratory for resulting. Test results are usually available in 24-48 hours. The laboratory conducts all required certificates and reporting for the camp.
Rapid, point of care tests
Abbott BinaxNOW rapid tests are available for use in camps and provide results in 15 minutes. These instrument-less, shelf-stable supplies are shipped in boxes of 40 tests. BinaxNOW tests are the most accurate for individuals with symptoms and sometimes require a follow-up test to confirm the test result.
To use BinaxNOW tests, camps must:
Obtain a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) Certificate of Waiver. The CLIA certificate process is fast and easy.
Report results to state and federal authorities within 24 hours of result.
Facilitate access to confirmatory testing when needed. DHS will provide lab-based molecular testing supplies to camps for confirmatory testing.
- Negative BinaxNOW test results occurring in individuals with COVID-19-like symptoms should be confirmed by a lab-based molecular test, because of the risk of false negative results.
- Positive BinaxNOW test results occurring in asymptomatic individuals (e.g. tests conducted as part of a routine screening program) should be confirmed by a lab-based molecular test, because of the risk of false positive results.
2. Obtain a CLIA Certificate of Waiver (only for rapid point of care tests)
When ordering rapid antigen tests from DHS, you will need to submit your CLIA Certificate of Waiver number.
To obtain a CLIA Certificate of Waiver, you will need to submit a completed application to email@example.com.
3. Partner with a clinician
All COVID-19 testing sponsored by this program needs to occur under the authority of a clinician with prescribing authority (MD, DO, PA, or NP). If you do not have a local clinician who manages your camp’s health services, you can complete the attestation form and submit to WICovidTest@Wisconsin.gov This will allow you to conduct testing under the statewide standing order for COVID-19 tests prescribed by the Wisconsin DHS Chief Medical Officer.
4. Submit a request for testing supplies
- To receive rapid point of care tests, complete all fields under BinaxNOW Testing Supplies.
- To receive lab-based molecular tests, in the PCR Testing Supplies field, type “Exact” for the Clinical Laboratory, click “Add Item,” and select “Collection Supplies and Laboratory Services.” Complete fields in form.
- To order both rapid point of care and lab-based molecular tests, complete both PCR Testing Supplies and BinaxNOW Testing Supplies fields.
5. Complete training
Any staff who will administer COVID-19 testing at your camp must complete training to assure they are using the tests safely and effectively.
Performing and Reporting the BinaxNOW test (Rapid Antigen) in Camps
BinaxNOW antigen testing does not allow for a self collection option.
- How to do a nasal swab video
- How to use BinaxNOW test video
- How to interpret BinaxNOW test video
- BinaxNOW package insert
- Reporting antigen results to public health
Performing and Reporting PCR test in Camps
6. Set up an account with the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene to report results
COVID-19 is a Category I reportable condition in Wisconsin. As such, test results must be reported to the State of Wisconsin and to federal authorities (HHS). To report results, set up an account.
If you have questions about ordering testing supplies or the camp testing program in general, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources to learn more
- DHS June 23, 2021 Testing in Camps webinar
- CDC Considerations for Youth and Summer Camps 2021
- CDC Guidance for Camps COVID-19
- CDC Suggestions for Youth Programs and Camps: Readiness and Planning Tool
- The Association of Camp Nursing Coronavirus COVID-19 Considerations for Camps
- Field Guide for Camps | American Camp Association
Frequently asked questions by category
- What support is the Department of Health Services providing camps to conduct COVID-19 testing? The Department of Health Services is offering free Abbott BinaxNOW point of care tests with optional confirmatory PCR supplies and comprehensive testing services through approved program vendors. Tests may be used for staff and campers who are symptomatic and close contacts, to conduct surveillance testing, or to test individuals who attend or participate in extracurricular events.
- Where can I find out additional information about testing in camps? If camps have specific questions on the testing program, email WICovidTest@Wisconsin.gov.
- Is it mandatory for camps to test campers and staff? No, participation in the testing program is voluntary.
- Will the program offer camps funding for additional staff in order to conduct testing? No. Direct funding to pay staff is currently not covered under this program.
- How do I order Abbott BinaxNOW tests under this program? Free Abbott BinaxNOW tests under this testing program may be ordered through the Wisconsin COVID-19 Collection Supply Request website. Camps conducting testing must provide a valid CLIA Certificate of Waiver number during the ordering process.
- Is the cost associated with biohazard waste disposal covered under this program? No. The cost of biohazard waste disposal is not covered under this program. Camps are responsible for safely disposing of waste. Options include the use of biohazard bags for used Abbott BinaxNOW cards, hard-sided biohazard containers for used swabs, and/or the use of a medical biohazard disposal service. For additional information, see CDC Waste Management Guidelines for SARS-CoV-2 Point-of-Care Testing.
CLIA Certificate of Waiver
- When does a camp need a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) Certificate of Waiver? For a camp to conduct point of care tests (like the COVID-19 Abbott BinaxNOW tests or diabetic glucose checks), the camp must apply for and receive a CLIA Certificate of Waiver. Camps may not conduct testing until the certificate of waiver has been approved. A camp does not need a certificate of waiver if they collaborate with another entity willing to conduct testing at the camp under that entity’s CLIA Certificate of Waiver or if the camp is not conducting point of care tests.
- What responsibilities must a camp fulfill as an organization with a CLIA waiver? Any organization with a CLIA Certificate of Waiver is responsible for the safety and effectiveness of services they provide. For camps conducting COVID-19 point of care testing, this includes staff training, effective infection control practices, and reporting infectious disease test results to the State of Wisconsin and to the federal authorities (HHS). Guidance about how to set up an account and report COVID-19 point of care test results is available from the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene.If a camp coordinates with a testing partner, or is providing lab-based molecular tests (not point of care tests), then the laboratory will assume the responsibility for the safety and effectiveness of testing – including responsibility for reporting test results on the camp’s behalf.
- If a camp uses another company to conduct point of care antigen testing, does the camp still need to obtain a CLIA Certificate of Waiver? No. If the camp partners with an entity to come to their camp to swab and result the point of care antigen test, then the camp does not need to obtain their own CLIA certificate of Waiver. All testing would occur under the external entity’s CLIA certificate. The camp should verify that the external entity conducting the test has a valid CLIA Certificate of Waiver. To find out if an entity has a valid CLIA Certificate of Waiver, request the CLIA number from the testing partner and verify it by checking the CDC CLIA Laboratory Search website or emailing email@example.com. All entities ordering BinaxNOW supplies from DHS are required to provide their CLIA number when placing their orders.
- How does a camp apply for a CLIA Certificate of Waiver? To apply to receive a CLIA Certificate of Waiver, the camp must fill out the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) application form CMS-116 CLIA Application and submit it to the State of Wisconsin CLIA Section at firstname.lastname@example.org. Once approved, CMS will assign a CLIA number and send a letter or email of confirmation to the camp. For more information on CLIA certification, reference the CMS Laboratory Quick Start Guide.
- How long does it take to process the CLIA Certificate of Waiver? Once a camp submits an accurate and complete application, CMS usually processes the Certificate of Waiver in one week or less. Once approved, the camp will be assigned a Federal CLIA number and may begin testing. Provide this CLIA number to DHS when ordering testing supplies.
- Is there a fee associated with applying for a CLIA Certificate of Waiver? Yes. An entity is required to pay $180.00 to CMS before the CLIA Certificate of Waiver is approved. CMS will send an invoice to the camp and you may submit payment to CMS directly or pay online at Pay.Gov.
- Does the CLIA Certificate of Waiver expire? The CLIA Certificate of Waiver is good for two years. CMS will send a renewal invoice 6 months prior to the expiration date of the certificate.
- The CLIA application asks to identify the "director" of the laboratory. Can this be anyone in the camp? The camp may list any employee as the director on the CLIA Application. It is recommended that the director is an individual who is or who will become knowledgeable about the requirements of maintaining the CLIA Certificate of Waiver and the camp’s testing operations, including testing and safety protocols, staff training, and reporting of test results. Examples may include: the camp nurse, a health aide, or a camp administrator overseeing the health or testing program.
- Would a camp organization with multiple campgrounds/programs need to have a waiver for each campground/program, or one for the whole organization? Generally, a camp organization with multiple campgrounds/programs may apply for one certificate of waiver to cover all campgrounds/programs under their organization. The camp organization must identify that the application supports multiple sites and identify each campground/program and address separately on the CLIA application.
- If a camp has multiple programs located at the same address, should the camp fill out the application as having multiple sites? No. If all programs are located at the same address, the camp may apply as a single location site.
- What other information will the application request? The application requires the camp to provide their Tax ID number. The application also requires the camp estimate the number of tests they plan to conduct. This can be a general estimate based on the number of staff and campers in your program(s).
- How can a camp verify whether they already hold a CLIA certificate? To verify whether an entity has a valid CLIA Certificate of Waiver, check the CDC CLIA Laboratory Search website or email email@example.com.
- Who do I contact if I have additional questions about the CLIA Certificate of Waiver process? For any questions about the CLIA Certificate of Waiver and process, email the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Quality Assurance at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Who at my camp is allowed to collect the specimen for a COVID-19 test? Does it have to be a nurse? Any staff member who is properly trained is allowed to collect the specimen and result the point of care antigen test. Training may be accessed through many venues, including from a trained clinician (a healthcare provider) or through the test manufacturer’s materials. If you need assistance finding these vendor materials, email WICovidTest@Wisconsin.gov.
- Does a camp need to have access to lab-based molecular tests? All camps conducting point of care testing under Dr. Westergaard's statewide standing order (including Abbott BinaxNOW tests) must assure compliance with the DHS and CDC recommendation for providing follow-up testing to confirm some antigen results. Lab-based molecular tests are recommended for this follow-up testing. Camps can order and provide these follow-up, confirmatory tests, or refer campers and staff to follow-up:
- at a free community testing site that conducts molecular testing
- using a free saliva at-home collection kit
- at the individual’s health care provider or a free or low cost health clinic for those who do not have a health care home (verify if they are conducting COVID-19 molecular testing prior to referral).
- How should camps prepare to test campers and staff on site? Camps interested in offering onsite testing will need to assure the following:
- that the testing program works for their camp community’s needs.
- that staff and campers (and their guardians) know about and understand the testing program and processes, including:
- obtaining guardian consent
- developing a process for notifying individuals of their results,
- and providing the staff and supplies necessary to conduct testing, including personal protective equipment (PPE), tables, cleaning supplies, etc.
Camps will also need to provide space to isolate campers with symptoms and who test positive while they wait for pick-up, develop processes for sending them home as soon as possible, and offer instructions to access follow-up testing when needed.
Should camps require a negative test result for campers or staff before returning to camps after they have been sick? If staff or campers test positive, how long should they isolate and quarantine? No. It is not recommended to require a negative test before returning to camp or work. There have been reports that an individual can continue to test positive long after they are considered to be contagious. Campers and staff who test positive should observe a 10-day isolation period from the date their symptoms first appeared. Additionally, they need to be fever-free for 24-hours and have improved symptoms before they end their isolation period. An asymptomatic person should observe a 10-day isolation period starting on the date the positive specimen was collected.
If a fully vaccinated person is exposed to COVID-19 they do not need to be tested or quarantine unless they are symptomatic. Close contacts who are not fully vaccinated should be tested and will need to quarantine for a 14-day period starting with the date of last contact with the infected person. Any person participating in camp activities who experiences COVID-19 symptoms should get a COVID-19 test. Learn about isolation and quarantine.
- When should an individual be referred for follow-up lab-based molecular testing? Follow-up confirmatory molecular testing is recommended for individuals who are symptomatic and test negative using the Abbott BinaxNOW, and for people who are asymptomatic and test positive using the Abbott BinaxNOW. Confirmatory testing should be conducted as soon as possible and within 48 hours. For a simple guide on when to retest, see COVID-19 Antigen Testing: When is it Best to Retest?. Additional guidance for the use of antigen testing is located in the COVID-19 Health Alert #17: Important Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Antigen Tests.
Does a camp participating in this state-sponsored program need an order signed by a medical provider to do testing? Yes, COVID-19 testing sponsored by this program needs to occur under the authority of a medical provider. A camp may obtain a written order through a clinician with prescribing authority (MD, DO, PA, or NP), or opt to use a standing order issued by Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. If a camp chooses to use Dr. Westergaard’s standing order, they must sign an attestation form agreeing to follow the requirements of the order.
Do you have a standard testing consent form we can utilize? A consent form should be signed prior to testing campers and staff. Template consent forms are available on the DPI COVID-19 School Health Services webpage. Testing in school consent forms can be modified for the purpose of testing in camps.