Ask the Pediatrician: Summer 2020

Even with sunny days ahead, COVID-19 has put a gloom on many summer plans. Postponed family vacations, cancelled summer camps, or missed playdates– this summer is going to be different. Here are answers to questions about the not-so-normal summer ahead.

How can I address my child’s disappointment about cancelled summer plans?
Make sure you get your own feelings in check before talking to your children. Acknowledge their sadness or anger that sleep-away camp or a special trip is not going to happen. Try to find other options, such as camping (even in your own backyard) or learning a new hobby. Create a new normal daily routine for your family to reassure your kids, help them feel safe, and create lasting memories.

Is swimming safe?
Swimming itself is safe, assuming you follow usual water safety precautions—keep an arm distance away from young swimmers, constantly supervise them in or near water, and surround the pool on all sides with a self-closing, self-latching gate. COVID-19 spreads mainly from respiratory droplets so as long as you and your kids are a healthy distance from other swimmers, masks are worn out of the water, and you are careful not to touch shared surfaces, such as gates, changing rooms, and pool equipment without immediately washing your hands, go ahead and enjoy a refreshing dip in the pool.

My children’s camp is open. Should they go?
Inquire as to the safety protocols your camp has in place, including how they are going to screen kids to keep COVID-19 from entering camp, decrease transmission between campers, identify illness, isolate, contact trace, and notify you if your child has been exposed. As long as plans are followed to keep campers safe, if you feel comfortable and your children want to go, I think it’s reasonable to send them.

How can we have a safe playdate?
It’s all about the risk that your family will tolerate. Every time you leave your home or are around other people, you are at risk for catching COVID-19. If you are ready to venture out and see others, choose families that you trust and who are also being careful. Keep a healthy distance away from others and gather outdoors to decrease risk of transmission of the virus. Avoid sharing food or drinks, wash/sanitize hands frequently, and disinfect commonly touched surfaces.

Will schools open this fall?
Most schools will open this fall using three pillars for safety. 1. Measures to prevent the virus from entering campus, such as health screening, temperature checks, and staggered drop offs. 2. Measures to decrease the risk of person-to-person transmission, such as smaller classes, masks, no large gatherings, unidirectional traffic, frequent handwashing, and disinfecting. 3. Procedures to identify illness, isolate, test, and contact trace. Teachers and administrators are working hard this summer to come up with creative solutions to engage kids while keeping them safe and learning. For those unable to attend in person or who are home quarantined, school will also be faced with the challenge of having both in-person and online options available.

These are unprecedented times but working together as a community to help each other will help us get through this pandemic while still finding creative ways to have fun this summer.