March 30, 2020

Playdates: Are They Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

The short answer from a pediatric specialist

Little girl stuck inside house without friends

Q: Is it safe for my child to have a playdate during the coronavirus outbreak?

With most schools, libraries and activity centers closed to help contain the spread of coronavirus, many parents are asking if it’s safe to schedule a playdate for their kids.

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Unfortunately, it’s not recommend at this time.

When it comes to playdates, especially with younger kids, there’s no way you can really provide direct supervision, because they’re playing together in enclosed quarters. Often time’s kids play pretty close to each other, and at this time that’s not recommended.

The point of canceling school and activities is to promote social distancing, which means keeping a distance of about six feet from others to prevent spreading germs.

And although early data suggests COVID-19 doesn’t seem to severely affect children, kids may be carriers and able to infect others.

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So what’s a kid supposed to do all day?

It’s okay for a child to play outside to burn off some energy, but parents need to be vigilant with hand washing, especially if they’re heading to a park with plenty of common areas (think benches, life-size animal statues to climb on) that they might touch.

Why are so many communities roping off playgrounds with caution tape? Playgrounds have a lot of hard, metal surfaces, so the rates of contamination and the risk of exposure is particularly high. If your kids are very young and can’t follow directions about not touching everything or not washing their hands properly, then it’s probably not a good idea to take them — even if they remain open in your area.

Children with a cold, congestion, cough, fever or diarrhea should not be allowed to play with healthy siblings or other kids.

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Purva Grover, MD, Medical Director of Cleveland Clinic Children’s Pediatric Emergency Departments.

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