Back to School Coronavirus Tips for Grandparents

Grandparent and Child Coronavirus

Are your grandchildren back in the classroom this month? While some school districts and colleges will begin the year with online education due to the continued risk of COVID-19, many others will have in-person classes or a hybrid of the two.  

Back-to-school season may offer some unique challenges this year, especially for grandparents at heightened risk for the virus who want to keep in touch with their grandkids. Here are five suggestions to help older Americans stay connected to their grandkids this fall while also staying safe!

  1. Ask about recent exposure. Before spending time with your grandkids, understand how recently they’ve been in the company of other children or adults and if any precautions like face masks and social distancing were observed. Use their responses to evaluate the type of contact – in person, virtual or other – that you can safely have with your grandchildren.    
     
  2. Stay protected. It probably goes without saying at this point, but remember to wear masks, observe social distance recommendations, and wash your hands frequently when in the presence of grandchildren who are in contact with others. Gloves can also offer extra protection. Depending on the age of your grandkids, some of these precautions may be frightening. Talk to them prior to your visit about some of the protections they may see you wearing and why it’s important.
     
  3. Arrange for regular video calls. If you haven’t joined the video-call bandwagon already, now is a great time to start. Use a video call service like Facetime, Skype, or Zoom to check in with your loved ones, whether they live down the block or are away at college out-of-state. Use this time to get the latest news on their school projects and extracurricular activities and even play some games like tic-tac-toe, Pictionary or hangman. For college-age grandchildren, video calls present a good opportunity to check in on how they are staying healthy and safe away from home.  
     
  4. Spend more time outdoors. There are lots of ways to spend quality time with your grandchildren. If a slumber party at grandma’s house feels too risky right now, arrange to spend time with your grandkids outdoors – at a park or sports field or on the beach. All these places make it easier to keep a safe distance while sharing quality time together.
     
  5. Watch for symptoms in yourself. Remember that you may just as easily spread coronavirus to your grandkids as pick it up from them. By observing safer practices such as limiting your exposure to others and wearing a mask, you can help prevent your family and friends from contracting the virus. And if you begin to show symptoms, get tested and stay at home.

Many older Americans find a lot of joy in their relationship with their grandkids. While the coronavirus and back-to-school season make it challenging to maintain that relationship, there’s no reason you can’t spend time together safely as we head into the fall.

For information and guidelines specific to the coronavirus pandemic, visit cdc.gov. This article is for general information and should not be relied on as medical advice. Check with a medical professional for medical advice.

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