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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Social Distancing With Children

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading through communities in many countries now. The best way to fight this spread is for everyone to practice social distancing.

What Is Social Distancing?

Social distancing puts space between people. When people who are infected with the virus stay away from others, they can't pass it to anyone else. This way, fewer people get sick at the same time. Then, doctors and hospitals are better able to keep up with treating those who need care.

Social distancing can be done in different ways, depending on how many people in the community are sick. Social distancing methods include:

  • closing schools, restaurants, shops, movie theaters, and other places where people gather
  • not getting together in person with friends
  • not going to stores unless it is necessary
  • working from home
  • not taking public transportation, including buses, subways, taxis, and rideshares

What Can I Do?

While the coronavirus is still spreading, it's best to take a "better safe than sorry" approach. This means:

  • Keep your family home and away from others as much as possible. Don't have friends and extended family over, and don't go to their homes. People who look healthy still can be infected and can spread the virus. That's why it's important to stay away from everyone, even if they don't seem sick.
  • If you have to go out, make sure you are at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from other people. Viruses can spread when someone sneezes or coughs out tiny droplets. These droplets don't usually travel more than 6 feet before falling to the ground.
  • If you're caring for someone who is sick, take all recommended precautions. It's important to keep that person away from others.

Why Are Schools Closing if Kids Aren't Sick?

With the coronavirus, kids don't seem to get as sick as adults. But infected kids can still spread the virus to people who could become seriously ill. Closing schools protects everyone in a community.

Can Kids Still Get Together With Friends?

For now, people should not go to places like movie theaters or restaurants, or to group events, sports activities, and even playdates.

Being away from friends, extended family, and social activities can be hard on teens and kids. To help them stay connected, you might set up FaceTime or Skype visits or playdates. You also can plan family activities. Taking a walk or a hike or riding bikes are great ways to get out and get active without having physical contact. If you go to parks, keep kids off of communal equipment (stuff that lots of kids use, like jungle gyms).

If people do come into your home, make sure that everyone washes their hands when they arrive and leave. Also, clean surfaces that get touched a lot (like doorknobs) before and after visits.

You Can Still Be Social

The official phrase is "social distancing," but it can help to think of it as "physical distancing" instead. We can still be social, just in different ways. Take advantage of social media and video apps to support each other, laugh together, and take care of each other until the virus is under control.

Date reviewed: March 2020