Returning to work and daycare safely

Everyone is undoubtedly excited to get back to normal after the past few months disrupted by COVID-19. As you enter back into life outside our bubble, even with the necessary precautions, it’s normal to be concerned with what the future holds. 

Social distancing has proven to be very challenging even for adults. The struggle is even greater for parents starting to send children back to daycare. Kids are not able to reliably social distance from each other. No parent wants to keep yelling, “Stay six feet away!” 

And telling your child to socially distance from other kids is as effective as telling a three-year-old not to pee in the pool. It’s the appropriate measure for you to take, but know they are not likely to follow through. This is not because they are rebellious, but mainly because it is so difficult and unnatural.

Parents also worry about how this current situation will affect their toddlers’ and kids’ social skills. It’s difficult to teach toddlers how to share if they aren’t able to come close to each other. Know that kids often surprise us with their resilience and can be able to adapt better than adults.

Now that the time has come to return to work at least to some degree, it’s obviously important to try your best not to unnecessarily expose yourself or others – especially those who are at high risk. 

Navigating new phases of returning to work and daycare

As of late, we have mostly been in our own little Venn diagrams. For most families, the Venn diagram includes family, a few close relatives, friends and co-workers. Let’s not forget the overly-friendly toddler who wants to give everyone hugs or high fives. 

Now the Venn diagrams are suddenly overlapping. This overlapping isn’t necessarily a problem, but as you return to work or come in contact with others on errands, you are now adding many others into your circle. 

It’s time to decide together as a community to keep children safe and also keep in mind parents, grandparents and co-workers. There are those who are at higher risk of severe outcomes from Coronavirus, and the decision to limit exposures while we return to some sense of normalcy is crucial to their safety. 

Ideally, you should try to limit all unnecessary exposures to shared bubbles. Trying your best to limit exposure with others will help give us all as much peace of mind as anyone can muster these days. We all have to make sacrifices to protect our loved ones at risk from the germ vehicles that our children often are. 

3 ways to limit the spread of Coronavirus as we return to work as states opening back up 

  1. Continue to practice social distancing

Although we are all eager to take off our masks and stop distancing, it’s still recommended to keep six-feet apart from all non-household contacts. It’s also important to wear a mask when going out to protect yourself and others in the community. 

  1. Be intentional about outings

Though many non-essential businesses are now opening, try to minimize exposure by choosing outings where you will not encounter as many people. It will give us all peace of mind if we know that we are all sacrificing to a similar extent.

  1. Keep your relatives safe 

It’s understandable to spend more time with grandparents and close relatives, but please consider how your exposure choices impact the entire group of parents, children and all the loved ones you come into contact with. 

  1. Stay home when sick

If you or your child are sick, be quick to caution and stay home until you know if it’s contagious. It may seem like overkill to keep your child home with a runny nose, but with the varying levels of symptoms, it’s important to take it seriously just in case. 

Watch for symptoms

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.” If you notice any of the following symptoms in your child, make sure to keep them home: 

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. The CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.

This isn’t easy, but if we can make an effort to try to limit the spread, we will have more peace of mind that we are all doing what we can to make the return to daycare and work as safe as possible. Although we can’t completely limit the spread, we can try our best to be careful to do our part in keeping ourselves and others safe. 

Preparing your kids for their return to daycare

Talking to your kids about how to handle the changes due to coronavirus at daycare is extremely important, but also challenging. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has helpful tips for making the conversation go a little more smoothly: 

Remain calm. Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.

Reassure children that they are safe. Let them know it is okay if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.

Make yourself available to listen and to talk. Let children know they can come to you when they have questions.

Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma.

Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online. Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.

Provide information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child. Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the Internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccurate information. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.

Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs. Remind children to wash their hands frequently and stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing or sick. Also, remind them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, then throw the tissue into the trash.

It’s also recommended to stay up to date with the new precautions that may be taken at daycare to help protect children and school staff. Now’s the time to give a call to your pediatrician or make a telehealth appointment to go over any questions specific to your family’s risk level and circumstances. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns so that you do your best to keep you and your children safe in returning back to daycare. 

Be intentional with our decisions and actions and make sacrifices together to protect family, friends, co-workers, and the community at large. By sharing these ideas with those in your network, you can help do your part to empower others to do their part in keeping everyone as safe as possible. 

Links and Resources:

Dr. Phil Boucher on Instagram
@DrPhilBoucher on Twitter
@DrPhilBoucher on Facebook
Dr. Phil Boucher
Email: podcast@drb.show

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