After being cooped up inside for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adults and children alike are itching to get back to some resemblance of normalcy. It is only natural to crave social interaction, especially when the nice weather practically begs us to spend time outdoors.
While much of 2020 was so-called “canceled” due to the outbreak, fun is still in the cards this summer—with safety at the forefront. Parents who want their kids to participate in summer sports and activities this year need to consider what accommodations are being made to keep kids safe and minimize risk for coronavirus transmission and infection, said Dr. Christina Johns, a senior medical advisor for PM Pediatrics, a practicing pediatric emergency physician and a mother.
“The details are important,” she said. “Ask yourself: What reasonable steps can the organizers of the activity and I take to keep my kids as safe as possible?”
To navigate this new normal, Johns shared these tips on keeping your children safe from coronavirus as they begin to play summer sports.
Anything outside where kids have the ability to maintain space between them and perform individual drills is generally safe, Johns said. Practices should include proper distancing. Kids should wear masks when they can’t keep apart, like in a baseball dugout. Coaches should ask all parents to provide their children with hand sanitizer. Of course, shared water bottles are a big no. Practices should be time-limited and not go on for hours, as the risk of exposure goes up with more time in proximity.
This is mostly okay, as long as kids don’t cluster for extended periods or do things that allow the close exchange of breath and the respiratory droplets that come with it, Johns said.
Indoor Play Spaces
Recirculated air is the real challenge, Johns explained. To mitigate this problem, try to spend no more than an hour or two inside any play space. Keep in mind that the smaller the space the less time you should be there. Facilities should also have aggressive and clear protocols on sanitizing equipment, temperature checks and masking.
Just say no to anything with extended close contact that is also indoors, like basketball or wrestling, is probably not a good idea, at least for now, Johns explained.
“Everyone needs to work together to keep kids from getting sick,” Johns said. “That means wearing masks if you can’t social distance, it means teaching kindness and respect for other people’s space. If you can’t opt-in on safety, you have to opt-out on the activity.”