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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Social Distancing With Children

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected countries throughout the world, but the world is fighting back. We still have a lot to learn about COVID-19. But we do know that practicing social distancing is an important part of stopping the spread of the virus.

What Is Social Distancing?

Most of us call it "social distancing," but it can help to think of it as "physical distancing" instead. Social distancing puts space between people. By keeping their distance from others, people infected with the virus are less likely to spread it.

The virus mainly spreads when someone breathes, talks, coughs, or sneezes, which sends tiny droplets into the air. People standing nearby can get these droplets in their eyes, nose, or mouth, or they can breathe them in.

When there's at least 6 feet between people, these droplets are more likely to fall onto the ground rather than on other people. Less often, tinier droplets can linger in the air for minutes to hours. These are called aerosols.

Because infected people may not have symptoms, it is best to keep a safe distance whenever you're around people you don't live with.

How Do We Keep a Safe Distance in Public?

Many states have reopened businesses and restarted recreational activities. So you might wonder how to keep your distance from others when you leave your home. Here are some tips for the whole family:

  • Whether outdoors or indoors, stay at least 6 feet away from other people and wear a mask or cloth face covering.
  • Sit or stand at least 6 feet away from others while taking public transportation.
  • Use drive-thru or curbside pick-up when possible for food orders and shopping. Shopping online from home is another way to keep your distance from others.
  • Choose outdoor venues for dining or activities whenever possible, as that gives people more space to spread out.
  • Follow local guidelines for things like how many people can gather in groups and what activities are allowed. They may differ from place to place. Also check with your doctor, local health department, or CDC for the most updated information.

How Can We Still Be Social?

It can feel like ordinary life has changed in countless ways. Many large group events and sports activities have been called off, and activities that weren't canceled have strict safety measures in place. These temporary but necessary steps help communities with their social distancing.

But we don't have to feel isolated or lonely. There are fun ways to stay socially connected while keeping a safe distance from each other. Zoom dinners with faraway loved ones, remote book clubs, and drive-by birthday parties are some ways to be together while apart during the pandemic.

Help your kids stay connected with friends and extended family members through video visits or playdates. If your kids meet friends in person, help them plan small outdoor get-togethers where they can keep a safe distance from each other, such as doing sidewalk chalk art or riding bikes.

You also can plan family activities. Take a walk or a hike to get out and get active without physical contact. Try to find quiet streets or less well-known paths for these outings. It's best not to go to parks where lots of people gather, especially those with things that lots of kids use, like jungle gyms.

Date reviewed: October 2020