No parent doubts their kids have been disproportionately affected by measures taken to control the COVID-19 outbreak; School closures; physical distancing measures that intrude into their play and separate them from their friends; worry and uncertainty about the future. Years from now, when are kids are reminiscing about ‘where we were’ during the pandemic, it will be remembered as a crater of social paucity in their collective conscious. Hopefully, as bad as that is, it will be nothing worse than that.
As parents, how can we mitigate the effects of the disease on our children?
Stay informed and up to date
And when we say, ‘stay informed’, we do not mean read and listen to social media talking heads who have a degree not in science or medicine, but rather, in bullshit. Your kids count on you to be critical thinkers. That means you must check and verify source material and question everything as it relates to the health of your family. Everyone has an opinion. Few are valid. Check.
Here is what we know today:
There is still little known about the long-term effects of COVID-19 on kids. We know it is possible for people of any age to be infected and transmit the virus, and we know kids are less impacted compared to older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions.
Rare reports of serious multisystem inflammatory syndrome affecting children and adolescents have surfaced in Europe and North America. Many of the kids who are suffering from this inflammation have also tested positive for the virus, however a link has yet to be established between this condition and COVID-19.
Clinical features of this reported inflammation include persistent fever; rash; red or pink eyes; swollen and/or red lips, tongue, hands, feet; gastrointestinal problems; low blood pressure; poor blood flow to organs; and other signs of inflammation. The good news is most cases responded well to anti-inflammatory treatment.
Send your kids back to school.
We are not doctors. We are not epidemiologists. However, we are parents who listen to and follow the best guidance available in the world today and sending our kids back to school is a risk we are willing to take based on the latest data.
If you, like us, have been able to refrain from eating your young after seven months of constant and close association with them, you will understand the very necessary separation required for the sake of everyone’s mental health. Kids need to socialize with their peers. We need a break from our kids.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a global initiative to help countries rapidly gather data on key epidemiological parameters in order to better understand and respond to the pandemic.
WHO recently stated, “To date, few outbreaks involving children or schools have been reported. However, the small number of outbreaks reported among teaching or associated staff to date suggests that spread of COVID-19 within educational settings may be limited.”
That hypothesis will certainly be put to the test. If it proves true, it will mean countries will be able to take more measured and appropriate actions to control the pandemic which will have less impact on our kids.
With schools open in most places around the world, parents are not thinking or planning on travelling. However, we have heard reports from many families that they will want to change things up and escape their home settings should schools find it necessary to close once again.
If you are planning on travelling, be sure to investigate and follow local and national advisories about your destination, any entry restrictions, quarantine requirements and other relevant travel advice.
To avoid being quarantined or denied re-entry into your home country, check the latest COVID-19 update on the International Air Transport Association website, which includes a list of countries and restriction measures.
Risks of transmission on airplanes
Surprisingly, aircraft environments do not seem to be much higher risk than other inside spaces. Very few have turned out to be infection clusters. Contributing factors include the widespread requirement to wear face masks onboard aircraft, high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filtration on many aircraft.
"The reasons for the apparently low rate of in-flight transmission are not known," noted the International Air Transport Association (IATA), "but could encompass a combination of the lack of face-to-face contact, and the physical barriers provided by seat backs, along with the characteristics of cabin air flow. Further study is anticipated."
Still, if you intend to travel by plane, make plans to keep your family safe.
When you board an airplane:
Continue the full hygiene practices that you apply at home.
Clean handles, seats, armrests, touchscreens and any other high-touch surfaces with disinfecting wipes.
Don’t take your mask off in the bathrooms.
Teach your children to touch as little as possible and to use plenty of soap.
After you safely navigate your air travel, you'll need to keep safe in your rented vehicle and accommodations.
When you rent a vehicle:
Ask what the rental company beforehand what measures they have in place to ensure their cars are safe.
Wipe down seats, dash, doorknobs, gear shifts and control surfaces with a disinfectant wipe.
Keep your kids off the car floors, and do not let them pick anything up without sanitizing it first.
When you enter your vacation accommodations:
Use disinfecting wipes to clean doorknobs, light switches, taps, phones, remote controls, countertops, chairs and all touch surfaces.
Include your kids in the cleaning process and let them know doing so helps the family stay safe. Make a game out of it if you can.
What should I do if my child has symptoms of COVID-19?
Seek medical attention right away, but do not go crazy with worry. Remember symptoms of COVID-19 such as cough or fever can be like those of the flu, or the common cold, which are a lot more frequent.
Remember how many times your kid dragged home a cold or bug from school before the pandemic hit? Seems like a long time ago now.
As with all respiratory infections, seek care and avoid going to public places like schools, workplace, public parks and public transportation to prevent spreading it to others. And do not let up on good hygiene practices like regular handwashing at home. This is still the absolute best way to protect your kids against other viruses and bacteria causing diseases.
The good news is, with both parents and teachers practicing and reinforcing a more rigorous hygiene with children, we should suffer through far fewer cases of flu or other bugs compared to our pre-pandemic world.