Are Small Playdates OK During COVID-19 Outbreak? | Texas Public Radio

Are Small Playdates OK During COVID-19 Outbreak?

Mar 15, 2020

Update: During a press conference, President Trump advised against gatherings of 10 or more people for the next 15 days.

Many schools across Texas are closed this week as the new strain of coronavirus spreads across the country. That means parents and kids are facing some alone time, which can make everyone a little stir crazy. Are playdates OK? 

Yes, if you’re smart and careful about it, according to Dr. Ruth Berggren, an infectious diseases specialist at UT Health San Antonio. Berggren said limit it to small groups — fewer than ten, including children and parents —  and make sure everyone is healthy. 

“Don’t send your kid to a play group if they have a fever or cough. Keep them home,” Berggran said. “But if they’re healthy, you ought to get them together and go do something that’s productive and fun.” 

Berggren suggested going to a public library, or perhaps a museum, while those venues remain open. Outdoor activities are even safer. This virus can’t live long on things like playground equipment with the Texas sun beating down on it.

“So you don’t need to be worried about those outdoor surfaces, and, by the very nature of what you do outside, you’re going to be farther away from people than when you’re sitting inside, and the air is going to be moving, so you’re not going to be breathing each other’s air,” Berggren said.

Whether inside or outside, the same rules apply. Try to keep your distance from one another; six feet is ideal. Wash your hands frequently, and use 60% alcohol based hand sanitizer if you’re not near a sink and soap. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Don’t shake hands. Cough into your sleeve. Don’t touch your face.

Stay home and keep your children home if you or they have a cough or a temperature.

Berggren says healthy, conscientious families can enjoy this time with their family and friends. 

“I think this is a wonderful opportunity for parents to think creatively about getting children together in small groups, and some of the parents who have the ability to not be at work could spend that time and rejoice in it, actually, and think about how can we enrich our experience together,” Berggren said.

All San Antonio area public school districts will be closed at least through March 20.

Bonnie Petrie can be reached at Bonnie@tpr.org or on Twitter at @kbonniepetrie.