I have been getting a LOT of questions over the past few weeks about sending kids back to daycare, school, or camp.
Let me start off by saying that there is NO right answer. And what works for one family may not work for another family.
The past few months have been hard. It’s been hard on kids to not be at school, and it’s been hard for parents for the kids to not be at school.
Lots of kids have had regressions — whether it’s been more potty accidents, more nightmares, or more tantrums.
Parents can’t work with their kids at home either.
Kids need the socialization that happens at school or daycare. They need more physical activity and more brain activity than most parents can provide at home, especially if also trying to work from home. While we have all managed to *survive* the past few months, we know that kids (and parents) will *thrive* once schools are re-opened.
Unfortunately, there is still a lot we do NOT know.
But as evidence emerges around the world, this is what we pretty confidently believe:
— The vast majority of children who contract Covid19 are either completely asymptomatic or only mildly ill. A very small % require hospitalization and a tiny % have poor outcomes.
— Daycares have been open worldwide the entire time (mainly for kids of essential workers), and there have not been major outbreaks.
— Young kids (pre-puberty) do not seem to transmit the virus very well. This means hardly any kid-to-kid or kid-to-adult transmission.
— The greater risk is to the adults involved: parents, teachers, other caregivers.
As schools reopen, most of them are focusing on addressing the last issue. Limit the opportunity for adults to interact with one another, and you limit the spread of virus between adults.
They are also focusing on overall sanitation concerns: wiping down toys/surfaces frequently, washing hands (correctly) on a regular basis, limiting the use of shared spaces (such as cafeterias).
Many are also implementing rules regarding face coverings (which should NEVER be used in kids <2yo) and daily temperature screenings for kids and adults.
The real problem, at this point in time, is that we — pediatricians and parents — do not have guidelines for returning to school if a kid is sick. We need to be prepared for a school policy that requires 3, 7, 10, or even 14 days home at a time. Even if there is another source for fever, such as strep throat or an ear infection, schools may institute stricter rules than before. And while I can make a recommendation based on best evidence, there are not yet any national guidelines to follow.
However it does look like at some point soon, we WILL be able to run a COVID19 test here in the office, with results in 15-20 minutes. Like a flu test, this becomes helpful for knowing what to expect and when someone can return to school or work — but does not pick up 100% of cases. So all testing will have to be done under consultation for how to interpret the results. But having this ability should help a lot.
Taken all together, what does this mean? Sending your kid to daycare or school is most likely safe. It is most likely necessary. And it is most likely something that you will be doing in the next few months. Continue practicing social distancing whenever/wherever you can. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. And call us with any concerns.