How to Manage The Risks of Child Care During the Pandemic
Everything is about risk mitigation right now,” says Anne Rimoin, a UCLA Fielding School of public health epidemiologist. “so you have to think carefully about where you’re putting your kids and who’s taking care of them and make the bet decisions that you can based on the options available to you.
Remember, children between the ages of 1 and 9, are less likely that adolescents and adults to get very sick from this coronavirus. Younger than 12 months are more vulnerable.
Here are some of your options:
Day care, preschool and other child centers
Is the center checking kids for symptoms, cleaning rigorously and restricting kids and staff to the same small groups each day?
Child care centers have fairly detailed guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on steps to take to reduce the spread of COVID -19.
Parents should look for INTENSIVE CLEANING and DISINFECTING PROCEDURES AND A PROTOCALL THAT THAT ASSIGNS CHILDREN TO GROUPS THAT CONSISTANTLY STAY TOGETHER HOPEFULLY WITH THE SAME ADULT.
Procedures for drop off and pick up should avoid crowding.
Grandparent or other vulnerable family member
If you are essentially “bubbling” with grandparents and relatives and you’re all staying safe, and not seeing other people, and not going out, then that is an option. Older people are at a drastically higher risk of getting severely ill and dying from COVID-19 so even if the risk is low of children transmitting the virus to adults, the risk is not zero. You just have to think about that with caution.
With in-person schooling cancelled, postponed or part time in many places for the fall, some parents are considering older relatives as backup child care. The families should plan on that two week isolation before enlisting this help, if possible. Have a conversation as to the plan regarding the scenario if someone feels sick.
A nanny will pose as much of an exposure risk as his or her personal daily activities dictate. It is important to have transparency and open communication in these discussions. Families and caregivers or close contacts should discuss plans and protocols for testing and isolation.
A paid in home caregiver should have coronavirus screenings the same way a day care center employee would.
An au pair who lives with the family (and is following safe practices when outside the home) is probably the safest nanny option
Pudding or care-sharing with another family
Many families have created “small pods” with one other family or even a few other to share in child care duties. This might seem safe, but it is not risk free. Be aware of members of the pod go to a gym, mingle with groups or eat inside a restaurant. Members should take a covid test , wear a mask ad not have close contact with those who are not members of the pod. Fewer is safer.
The pod choice, we believe, is the least safe of the choices we have outlined.