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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Social Distancing With Children

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading through communities in many countries now. The best way to fight this spread is for everyone to practice social distancing and stay home.

What Is Social Distancing?

Social distancing puts space between people. When people who are infected with the virus stay away from others, they can't pass it to anyone else. This way, fewer people get sick at the same time. Then, doctors and hospitals are better able to keep up with treating those who need care.

What Should We Do?

Social distancing means:

  • not going out unless it is necessary. Necessary reasons to go out include buying food, getting medical care, or going for a walk or a bike ride alone or with members of the household.
  • closing schools, restaurants, shops, movie theaters, and other places where people gather
  • not getting together in person with friends
  • working from home if possible
  • not taking public transportation, including buses, subways, taxis, and rideshares

During this health crisis, it's best to take a "better safe than sorry" approach. This means:

  • Keep your family home and away from others as much as possible. Don't have friends and extended family over, and don't go to their homes. People who look healthy still can be infected and can spread the virus. That's why it's important to stay away from everyone, even if they don't seem sick.
  • If you have to go out, make sure you are at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from other people. Viruses can spread when someone sneezes or coughs out tiny droplets. They may even spread when people talk. These droplets don't usually travel more than 6 feet before falling to the ground. Also, follow the CDC's advice on wearing a cloth face covering (or a face mask, if you have one).
  • If you're caring for someone who is sick, take all recommended precautions. It's important to keep that person away from others.

Why Are Schools Closed if Kids Aren't Sick?

Kids don't seem to get as sick from coronavirus as adults. But infected kids can still spread the virus to people who could become seriously ill. Closing schools protects everyone in a community.

Can Kids Still Get Together With Friends?

It might feel like ordinary life is at a standstill. Movie theaters and restaurants are closed; group events and sports activities have been called off. These temporary but necessary measures will help communities with their social distancing.

But that doesn't mean we need to feel isolated or lonely. With a bit of creativity, you can help your kids stay connected with friends and extended family members by setting up video visits or playdates.

Some neighborhoods have created scavenger hunts or homemade bingo games to keep a feeling of togetherness. Kids can walk or ride with their parents in search of "treasures" or stuffed animals in windows. These give kids fun things to do outside while still keeping physical distance from neighbors.

You also can plan family activities. Taking a walk or a hike or riding bikes are great ways to get out and get active without having physical contact. Try to find quiet streets or less well-known paths for these outings. It's best not to go to parks where other people might gather, especially those with things that lots of kids use, like jungle gyms.

You Can Still Be Social

The official phrase is "social distancing," but it can help to think of it as "physical distancing" instead. We can still be social, just in different ways. Take advantage of social media and video apps to support each other, laugh together, and take care of each other until the virus is under control.

Reviewed by: Jonathan M. Miller, MD
Date Reviewed: 06-04-2020

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