August 26, 2020

Kids: camps and schools

I haven’t written much about kids and COVID-19. We are still learning. Today the CDC published a report about 4 sleep-away camps in Maine that were able to prevent spread of COVID-19 to 1000 campers and staff by taking specific steps to prevent spread. They did this with several measures, including campers and their families quarantining for 10-14 days prior, getting tested before coming, separating the campers and staff into smaller groups, re-testing after 5-9 days and then isolating the few cases they found and the groups they were in. They also did other things like enforce mask wearing and physical distancing, while doing most activities outdoors. It took preparation and cooperation, but it worked. Contrast that with the sleep-away camp in Georgia, where 260 out of 344 tested were positive. (out of 597 campers and staff). The staff wore masks but the campers did not. Most of the positives had either no symptoms or mild symptoms.

This information can be helpful when faced with school openings. It also makes clear that children not only can transmit the virus to each other, but they can also partner to prevent transmissions, as well.

These are difficult times and children are missing out when they can’t physically be in school. Not all families have access to the internet to do home schooling. The American Academy of Pediatricians, the professional organization for pediatricians, has some considerations and guidelines. Even though they believe it is in the best interest of children to be in school, they realize that it is not so simple and it depends on how active coronavirus is in their community and other factors.

The American Academy of Pediatricians also has recommendations on mask wearing in children and says that even children as young as 2 can learn to be comfortable in a mask. Indeed, one of my 2 year olds came in for her well child check wearing a mask that matched her doll’s mask. Adorable. Here is an excellent handout from the Academy that busts the myths regarding masks and another that talks more about children and masks. The links are below. Some parents I know are having their kids practice wearing masks at home and when they go out so they get used to it.

Teens will have their own unique needs as school returns. This guide from the New York Times is helpful. And if your kids are staying home, The Seattle Times has some fun suggestions on combining learning with outdoor exploring and playing in nature.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, and remember that masks really do work.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.