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Coronavirus and Schoolchildren: A Parents’ Guide

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Many schools are closed throughout the region due to coronavirus concerns. What’s next? Below are some answers to frequently asked questions you may be asking.

How do I explain coronavirus to my child?

Your child has probably already heard about coronavirus from the news, their friends at school or from your conversations at home. It may seem daunting to explain to your child, but children are smarter and more resilient than we often give them credit for. Try to approach the topic without anxiety and explain coronavirus in simple terms your child can understand. Another approach may be to ask your child what they already know about the coronavirus. You may be surprised by the response, and it may give you the opportunity to dispel some myths.

How can I keep my child engaged while out of school?

  • Maintain a routine
    Even in a new and uncertain situation, it’s best to try to maintain order and structure for your child. Research shows that routines lead to a healthier lifestyle and allow your child to thrive in different conditions than they may be used to. Try to stick to usual wake-up, nap, and bedtime routines even though it can be tempting to allow your little ones to stay up late or sleep in.

  • Utilize free online educational resources
    While screen time should be moderated, there are lots of free, educational online resources to keep your child’s mind sharp while they are out of school. Many public libraries also offer online systems to download e-books, audiobooks and educational videos with your library card. Below are a few additional websites that offer online learning opportunities.

What about work?

Many companies are encouraging employees to work from home if possible. If you fall into this group, try to plan solitary activities for your child to work on throughout the day to allow yourself some time to get your work done.

If you aren’t able to work remotely, it may be time to rally your personal community. Think about trying to coordinate childcare with a coworker who works a shift opposite of yours, reach out to other parents in your child’s class or social groups or enlist the help of trusted family members or even older siblings. Allowing an older child to help care for their siblings may make them trusted and empowered.

Can kids have play dates?

While it is important for children to have social interaction with their peers, you still want to practice social distancing. Social distancing simply means slowing the spread of the virus by reducing the amount of people in large groups and preventing the spread of germs. This may mean allowing your kids to catch up with their friends via phone call, Skype or FaceTime for now.

Can I take my kids to the public park or playground?

While open-air playgrounds are generally considered lower risk than indoor play places, you can’t be sure that they are risk-free. Outdoor play equipment is not generally sanitized and it’s important to practice social distancing by staying close to home and avoiding large groups of people.

With that being said, it’s also important to use your best judgment and maintain balance as mental health can affect your overall health. If you do decide to take a trip to a public park or playground follow a few simple steps to reduce your risk of bringing home any germs:

  • Don’t play during peak times
    Plan to hit the park or playground during less busy times of day. You can frame your trip to your little ones as a car ride to get out of the house and scope out your play place before agreeing to stop. If it looks too crowded, try another time of day.
  • Sanitize those swings
    Bring sanitizing wipes with you, and wipe down play equipment before and after your child touches them.
  • Wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer
    Make sure that you carry a travel-sized hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and have your kids use it often while out and about. You’ll also want to make sure that they wash their hands properly before and after playing, using the restroom, or eating.

    You can ensure proper hand hygiene for your child in just a few simple steps:

    • Wet hands using warm or cold running water.
    • Use soap.
    • Scrub for at least 20 seconds, making sure to get the back of their hands, between their fingers and under their nails. You can teach your kids to measure the time by singing Happy Birthday twice.
    • Rinse hands.
    • Dry thoroughly.

  • Encourage solo outdoor play
    When possible, encourage outdoor play close to home. Riding a bike or scooter around your neighborhood or playing with outdoor chalk in your driveway are great ways to get outside while still limiting your exposure to others.

How else can I clean and sanitize my child’s space?

Beyond handwashing and wiping down frequently touched items and surfaces, you can make sure your child’s space is clean by washing bed linens and stuffed animals. You can also clean hard toys with antibacterial wipes. This is especially important for items that may have been taken to public places, school, or daycare.

What if my child has the cold or flu?

Ochsner Anywhere Care virtual visits offer immediate access to a healthcare provider from your smartphone, tablet or computer. Virtual visits are a great solution for people with less severe or chronic conditions and can help you limit your child’s exposure. Depending on your symptoms and history, your Anywhere Care doctor may recommend you go to an urgent care clinic or emergency room. The doctor may also recommend you make a follow-up appointment with a primary care provider or a specialist.

What if my child develops COVID-19 symptoms?

If your child develop symptoms and they have been in contact with someone or been in an area known to have COVID-19, call the Ochsner COVID-19 hotline at 1-844-888-2772, or schedule a Virtual Visit.

Can I get my child tested for COVID-19?

If COVID-19 testing is recommended by the Louisiana Department of Health and your child’s healthcare provider, the following Ochsner Urgent Care Centers are now designated for COVID-19 assessment and testing.

The information in this blog post is accurate at the time of publication. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to change, it's possible that information has changed since being published. While Ochsner Health is trying to keep our blog posts as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations by using the CDC website.

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