Parents should expect these safety precautions
As Illinois slowly begins to reopen, parents everywhere are wondering what this summer and fall will look like and what activities their kids can safely partake in, including day care and summer camp.
This is a challenging issue as there is not one concise, simple way to judge safety in any environment. It's important to note that community spread has decreased because people are following masking, social distancing and stay-at-home recommendations.
If these practices continue and are applied to new settings, community spread of COVID-19 can be maintained at low levels while children partake in new activities. Below are recommendations for three of the most questioned summer activities: day care, summer camps and swimming pools.
Day care and camp
Parents need to know there is a plan for keeping children safe, and parents must understand and approve of that plan. Changes camps and day cares should be making include:
• Staggered drop-off and pickup procedures to maintain social distancing. What steps will be taken to get children in and out safely?
• Wellness screening for staff and children, which may include a brief health questionnaire and daily temperature screening.
• Establish a policy if a child or staff member arrives or develops symptoms of illness.
• Increase activities to maintain social distancing, including smaller groups, outside activities and no mixing of groups. Masks are important to wear, especially inside when social distancing may not be possible.
• Demonstrate and practice frequent hand hygiene and maintain appropriate supply of materials for hand hygiene.
• Enhance cleaning and disinfectant procedures for common surfaces, toys and supplies. Supplies should not be shared, and each child should be provided with his or her own materials.
• Children should bring their own food and snacks to limit group food preparation and sharing of supplies.
Pool openings will be determined locally by the health department. In Illinois, pools are opening for lap swimming, diving, swim lessons, swim team practice and water therapy. When pools reopen for recreation swim, the same behaviors should be applied to pool use that reduce community spread of COVID-19: social distancing, hand hygiene and enhanced cleaning of high-touch areas.
As our numbers in Illinois continue to decrease because of the precautions everyone has taken over the last few months, hopefully schools will be able to open in the fall. However, we're not at the point yet where we can say confidently that schools will reopen. If school is held in person, it will look much different from how it's looked in the past.
Changes might include smaller classroom sizes, desks arranged differently to allow for social distancing and children might be kept in one class throughout the day rather than moving around.
Parents should seek guidance on websites like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the state's health department.
• Children's health is a continuing series. This week's article is courtesy of Advocate Children's Hospital.