The summer of 2020 will look a whole lot different from previous summers. Thanks to COVID-19, you can forget about your kids frolicking in the dirt or pool with friends. A new rulebook is necessary for parents when it comes to summer activities for their kids. What can they do? What is safe to do? Will you get to have time away from your children after being at home with them for the past several months? That last one is for you, parents.
2020 has been a wild ride, and every adult and child deserves to have fun this summer. Working parents deserve a break and children should have the ability to attend summer programs, including camps, park programs, or sports programs. While recreation centers or playgrounds may be closed, there are activities that are safe.
Outdoor Vs. Indoor Activities
The recommendations for safety surrounding COVID-19 continue to change, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determine that outdoor activities are much safer than indoor activities. Going to the park and backyard playdates are much safer than indoor movie nights or sleepovers with friends. All of this is familiar territory, and yet it is unknown because of the pandemic.
Can You Minimize Potential Risks?
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a zero-risk summertime activity for you and your children. Things that we used to consider normal can pose serious risks for COVID-19 transmission. More space, less people, and reduced interaction is the ideal combination for lowering your risk of transmission. We believe the following list of activities help outline what is and isn’t safe for your kids this summer.
Kids feed off the energy of other kids, and they are probably tired of not spending time with people in their own age group. Playdates are very common during the summer and experts say that they can happen in specific ways that are low risk. The first step is to initiate the playdate with another parent. Ask what the family has done, who they have seen, and where they have been during the past couple weeks. Once you are comfortable with their answers, it’s time to decide on the activities and location of said playdate. It is best for your kids to be active and moving, as opposed to watching TV, drawing, or playing cards. Playing with a mask on in the park is an extremely low-risk activity, and so is going to the beach, which leads us into our next tip.
A family trip to the beach is a classic summer outing, and health officials claim that it is a low-risk activity, so long as you follow certain guidelines. As many beachgoers know, certain beaches are more crowded than others. Try your best to avoid the crowded beaches and opt for more secluded coves or beaches that are more under-the-radar. Everyone in the family should wear masks at the beach, especially if other families are set up near your own. Obviously, masks should not be worn when entering the water.
The good old days of children spending weeks away at summer camps are long gone. When you consider that overnight camps have many high-touch surfaces and shared spaces, the thought of sending your child there is a little scary. According to experts and the CDC, summer camp will be different this year, and sleepaway camps will not be operational. Summer day camps will most likely involve temperature checks, outdoor activities with smaller groups, and no communal meals in mess halls. Day camps may be harder to control, though, because kids come in and out. These may be high risk and a last resort for parents this summer.
Speaking of camps, you can enjoy a family camping trip with a low risk of virus transmission. Since it will most likely be one family in specific areas, camping is a very safe activity for children. Before you dust off the camping gear and pack up the car, be sure the check whether or not campgrounds are actually open. Some campgrounds remain closed to avoid contact with common areas like restrooms and other facilities.
Childcare facilities are reopening, but they face unknown crises. Some parents depend on these places, but children remain indoors by necessity. It is obviously difficult to get little kids to understand the concept of social distancing, but the CDC issued guidelines for safely reopening childcare facilities. These guidelines include regular temperature checks, increased sanitation requirements, masked employees, and other recommendations. Parents also need to do their part to help out these facilities by following health recommendations at home. If the child exhibits any sort of symptoms such as cough, fever, runny nose, aches & pains, or other flu-like symptoms, do not bring him/her to the childcare place.
In closing, enforce hand-washing, touch as little as possible, and avoid large crowds of people. This summer may not be what you are used to, but the little steps you take contribute to a healthier future.