As the coronavirus continues to spread across the country, more and more families will have to deal with its effects. Today, I thought I’d share with you my experience so far as a mom of three elementary-aged kids living in the center of the U.S. outbreak.
I live 10 minutes away from the hospital where the six American Coronavirus deaths occurred.
Two of my three children were born there. My husband was actually a hospital administrator there for 5 years before switching hospitals last year. On Saturday, the hospital where my husband currently works also confirmed a case of Coronavirus.
So far, two schools in my kids’ school district have been temporarily closed for deep cleaning because of Coronavirus exposure. (My daughter’s weekend choir performance at one of those schools was cancelled.)
And, late last night, we received an email from the school superintendent letting us know that all schools in the district will be closed on Tuesday for staff training in the event that our children need to start participating in “mobile learning” from home.
Over the weekend reports emerged that because of government limitations on who could be tested, undetected cases of Coronavirus may have been spreading in my area for up to 6 weeks already. And that many more people here may be infected than we thought.
Needless to say, people are freaking out a bit.
As you can probably imagine, neighborhood facebook groups are lighting up with comments and the lines at the grocery stores, Target and Costco on Saturday were “worse than any Black Friday” according to multiple community members.
As parents of a kindergartner, 3rd grader and 5th grader- how are we handling all this?
#1 – NOT Buying Masks
It won’t stop us from getting the virus. Plus, it could cause a shortage that will cause more problems for our community.
#2 – Answering Our Kids Questions
Before heading off to school Monday morning, I called a family meeting around the breakfast bar. First I asked them what they knew about the coronavirus and corrected anything that was incorrect.
Next, I told them what I know. I explained that people had been getting sick from it here, and that there had been (at the time) two deaths so far. But I made sure to emphasize that those people were already sick in other ways.
Finally, I told them that more people are going to get it but it’s not something they need to be scared of and that it’s not making very many kids sick. It’s also not making kids sick enough to have to go to the hospital right now.
My biggest goal is to keep the conversation going. I remember elementary school- kids LOVE a juicy rumor- and I can only imagine what they’re hearing today.
At dinner tonight I’m gonna play a game- whoever comes up with the craziest thing said about the virus at school today gets the biggest piece of dessert.
I want to know what my kids are hearing and I want to keep talking with them about it!
#3 – New Hand Washing & Face Touching Rules
Once I made sure the kids weren’t scared, I re-emphasized that it was now extra important to wash their hands A LOT.
We’ve been practicing this all weekend.
By now they’ve gotten used to the routine of washing their hands while singing the ABCs every time they come into the house, every time they eat, etc.
We also talked about trying not to touch their faces. Honestly, this is probably futile with my kids (most kids?) but at least I feel a little better having drilled it into them.
#4 – Homemade Hand Sanitizer
They’re also all carrying hand sanitizer in their backpacks and we encouraged them to share it with their friends throughout the day.
It’s pretty much impossible to buy hand sanitizer right now due to it being sold out everywhere. My husband sent me this text when he tried over the weekend.
#5 – Small Changes to Our Routine
As I said above, I know that the virus is spreading here but I also know that right now it’s not making healthy kids or healthy, non-elderly adults very sick.
With that in mind, I’m avoiding unnecessary crowds but am not keeping my kids home.
Our school superintendent has said that all absences will be excused and some of my friends have elected to keep their kids home.
I support every family doing what they feel is best for them and for us, right now, that means still going to school but no longer taking the bus.
#6 – Stocking Up on Kid Food & Meds
My kids are picky eaters, my kindergartner to an extreme degree. So, while I’m not advocating for everyone to rush to the store, we did stock up on non-perishables we know they’ll eat; peanut butter and crackers, canned and dried fruits, beans, pasta, soups and mac-n-cheese.
We also grabbed extra supplies of children’s ibuprofen and Tylenol, adult cold and flu meds, and gatorade.
This because I’m worried there will be shortages and the stores will run out of food or medicine.
It’s because, again, I’m in the freaking epicenter of this thing, and I’m anticipating more measures as the virus spreads.
If the recommendation comes to stop gathering in groups in public, I just want to have a store of food ready so I don’t have to run to the store at the same time as everyone else.
That’s pretty much it and, so far, it seems to be working. My kids don’t seem worried – if anything, they’re excited to miss school on Tuesday- and we’re going to keep checking in to make sure it stays that way.
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