For starters, rather than prohibiting children from playing together and eliminating all social risk, Dr. Chiang and the A.A.P. schools-reopening guidelines focus on reducing risk and state that outdoor play is safer than indoor play. Jenkins said her family now socializes with another cautious family. Their summer plans include outdoor playground and beach visits, but not museums.
Some families who initially tried going without sitters and nannies have relented, and public-health experts acknowledge that the strain was significant. Parents and nannies should have honest discussions about their expectations for mask-wearing and distancing. “But there is no way for a nanny to socially distance from a young kid she’s taking care of,” Dr. Chiang said. And there is no evidence that risk of transmission is lower for a younger nanny, she added.
Ultimately, parents have to weigh their threshold for risk when it comes to children’s interactions with others. And that same advice applies to day care, summer camp or school in the fall. Parents should consider the demands of their work, whether any household member is at high risk for severe Covid-19, the status of the outbreak in their community and administrators’ plans for keeping children and staffers at least in fixed and distanced groups. Also, look for policies requiring children and staffers to be screened for symptoms.
In other words, Dr. Chiang said, if the spread of coronavirus in your community is low, if administrators seem to be taking risk reduction seriously and if parents have to work from home or are essential workers, sending young kids to day care or school may make sense.
“The logistics of keeping kids out of school, but still trying to educate them, go far beyond just infectious diseases,” Dr. Starke. “They go into economics, they go into social structure, and they go into families.”
Dr. Chiang has the same decisions to make. When her daughter’s day care reopened, she spoke with the facility’s director about distancing, disinfection and other coronavirus-related policies. Statistics, family composition, and the age of her daughter also must be considered.
“With her being 2 1/2, the risk that she’s going to have severe disease from Covid-19 or develop MIS-C is tiny,” Dr. Chiang said. “We don’t have any older family members living with us or in town, so we don’t have to consider her getting infected at day care and infecting grandma and grandpa. And the benefits she gets from day care are amazing.”