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Kids, COVID-19 and Daycare: What You Need to Know to Keep Them Safe

August 20, 2020

With schools reopening, many parents will be returning to the workplace and relying on daycares and caregivers to look after their children. Many new public health precautions have been put in place to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in these settings. And there are steps you can take as a parent for your child to resume the benefits of socialization and education offered at daycares, while reducing their risk of infection.

Talk with Your Kids and Your Doctor

First, talk with your kids about proper hygiene practices for optimal health. Show them how and when to practice handwashing, especially as soon as you return home from being in public. Explain and demonstrate to them how to cover sneezes and coughs, how to sanitize surfaces and how to keep their distance from others when in public. 

Every family’s situation is different, as is your child’s medical history. Reach out to your pediatrician or family doctor, maintain check-ups and vaccinations, and continue to assess your child’s development and well-being, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Your pediatrician also will be able to offer insights about the status of any local outbreaks and health department bulletins that may have changed, especially those regarding daycares and schools. 

Kids and Masks

Whether your child is returning to a daycare center or a caregiver in your neighborhood or family circle, doing so should take place mindfully. Fresh air, outdoor play and exercise are what kids need right now. Be aware that when kids resume sports or any vigorous physical activity such as running, masks should not be worn — they can interfere with breathing, slide off and can get tangled. Instead, social distancing should be followed. 

Remember, children younger than age two should not wear masks, but even among kids under five, masks are difficult to keep in place. For pre-school age children, a more effective preventive route is to help them maintain a social distance of six feet whenever possible. 

Once children have reached kindergarten age, they should understand more about why measures such as regular handwashing and indoor mask-wearing are taking place. Make this an ongoing conversation, so they can better understand why as a family you leave off your masks when going for a bike ride but put them on to enter a crowded grocery store or to get a haircut. 

A Quick Checklist to Discuss with Your Care Center or Provider

Once you’ve had these discussions with your pediatrician and your children, be sure to ask some questions of your daycare center, caregiver or babysitter. Don’t be shy — it’s important to be informed about how they are conducting themselves for the health of your child and for the whole family. 

  • What are their plans for cleaning and disinfecting? 

  • How will the provider be screening for illness?

  • When someone gets sick, will they have to be tested? Is there an isolation room if a child is feeling unwell in the middle of the day? 

  • Who will have contact with your child? 

  • How does the center plan to manage small groups and social distancing? What about maximizing outdoor play? And what about ventilation when indoors? 

  • Do caregivers understand when masks should be worn/not worn, and what is appropriate for certain ages?

To the best of their ability, daycare centers should be following these and other guidelines as advocated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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