Tips to keep children healthy while school’s out

The CDC shares ways families can make learning fun and keep their children safe while learning remotely.
Click here to read the full Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory published on Saturday, March 21.

Children and their friends

Limit Social Interactions: The key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 is to limit contact as much as possible. If you have play dates, keep the groups small. Encourage older children to hang out in a small group and to meet outside rather than inside. It’s easier to keep and maintain space between others in outdoor settings, like parks.

Practice Social Distancing: If you have small meetups, consider hanging out with another family or friend who is also taking extra measures to put distance between themselves and others (social distancing).

Clean Hands Often: Make sure children practice everyday preventive behaviors, such as washing their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important if you have been in a public place.
 
Remember, if children meet outside of school in bigger groups, it can put everyone at risk.
Information about COVID-19 in children is somewhat limited, but current data suggest children with COVID-19 may only have mild symptoms. However, they can still pass this virus onto others who may be at higher risk, including older adults and people who have serious underlying medical conditions.

Help children continue learning

Stay in touch with your child’s school.
  • Many schools are offering lessons online (virtual learning). Review assignments from the school, and help your child establish a reasonable pace for completing the work. You may need to assist your child with turning on devices, reading instructions, and typing answers.
  • Communicate challenges to your school. If you face technology or connectivity issues, or if your child is having a hard time completing assignments, let the school know.
Create a schedule and routine for learning at home, but remain flexible.
  • Have consistent bedtimes and get up at the same time, Monday through Friday.
  • Structure the day for learning, free time, healthy meals and snacks, and physical activity.
  • Allow flexibility in the schedule—it’s okay to adapt based on your day.
Consider the needs and adjustment required for your child’s age group.
  • The transition to being at home will be different for preschoolers, K-5, middle school students, and high school students. Talk to your child about expectations and how they are adjusting to being at home versus at school.
  • Consider ways your child can stay connected with their friends without spending time in person.
Look for ways to make learning fun.
  • Have hands-on activities, like puzzles, painting, drawing, and making things.
  • Independent play can also be used in place of structured learning. Encourage children to build a fort from sheets or practice counting by stacking blocks.
  • Practice handwriting and grammar by writing letters to family members. This is a great way to connect and limit face-to-face contact.
  • Start a journal with your child to document this time and discuss the shared experience.
  • Use audiobooks or see if your local library is hosting virtual or live-streamed reading events.

School meal services

Check with your school on plans to continue meal services during the school dismissal. Many schools are keeping school facilities open to allow families to pick up meals or are providing grab-and-go meals at a central location.

Keep children healthy

Watch your child for any signs of illness.
  • If you see any sign of illness consistent with symptoms of COVID-19, particularly fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call your healthcare provider and keep your child at home and away from others as much as possible. Follow CDC’s guidance on “What to do if you are sick.”
Watch for signs of stress in your child.
Teach and reinforce everyday preventive actions.
  • Parents and caretakers play an important role in teaching children to wash their hands. Explain that hand washing can keep them healthy and stop the virus from spreading to others.
  • Be a good role model—if you wash your hands often, they’re more likely to do the same.
  • Make handwashing a family activity.
Help your child stay active.
  • Encourage your child to play outdoors—it’s great for physical and mental health. Take a walk with your child or go on a bike ride.
  • Use indoor activity breaks (e.g., stretch breaks, dance breaks) throughout the day to help your child stay healthy and focused.
Help your child stay socially connected.
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