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Keeping your children safe this summer

Dr. Meghan Kusko, family practice physician and obstetrician at Gritman|Moscow Family Medicine

As Idaho has begun to reopen, many parents are wondering what is and what is not safe for their children this summer. Over the past several weeks we’ve seen a spike in COVID-19 cases across the country. Although these spikes are most prevalent in populated areas, they all have one thing in common: more relaxed social environments with less stringent infection precautions.

Although Latah County has not yet been affected dramatically by COVID-19, we have seen a handful of new cases since Idaho began its reopening process. For each confirmed COVID-19 case, there are likely many more unconfirmed cases. To put it simply, we are not out of the woods yet.

So what does this mean for summertime childhood fun? There are varying degrees of risk inherent in childhood activities over the summer. In general, risk for acquiring COVID-19 will be increased by: (1) the more people your child comes into contact with, (2) being exposed to individuals who are visiting from a higher-prevalence area, and (3) enclosed versus open-air environments. Every parent will feel comfortable with a different degree of risk-taking, and I certainly do not want to make that decision for you. However, here are some of my thoughts when making individualized decisions about what is and what is not safe:

  • Outdoor activities such as bike riding, hiking and fishing are great options to keep your child safe and active this summer. If you opt to take your child to the park or playground, try to go during less busy hours and make sure to practice good hand hygiene before and after visiting.
  • Outdoor youth sports are safer than indoor sports. Sports that inherently allow for social distancing are ideal. Talk with your child’s coach to determine what precautions (if any) they plan on taking to limit the potential spread of infection.
  • Talk with your day care about the precautions they are taking to keep children as safe as possible. Are classroom sizes smaller? Are most activities held outside? Is your day care screening children/parents for symptoms and fever before allowing anyone into the facility?
  • If your child is participating in indoor activities that could result in close contact, teach them social distancing and consider having them wear a face mask to both protect themselves and their friends.

Ultimately, until we have more information about the prevalence of COVID-19 in Latah County as Idaho reopens, we won’t have many definitive answers about what is and is not safe. There is, however, one thing that is certain – being overly cautious won’t harm anyone and can only help. I strongly encourage you and your families to continue practicing good hand hygiene, social distancing and wearing a facemask in public settings for the protection of our community. For more detailed information on COVID-19 and pediatrics, I’d recommend visiting this website or finding the latest information in our Online Clinic.