Can I send my kids back to day care?

Last updated June 15th 2020, 1:33:19am

This is a really hard question. First, you might want to review our explainer on COVID-19 and kids, which suggests (bottom line) that kids have typically mild illness and that they also do not seem to get infected at as high rates as older people. This culminates in some findings suggesting kids are not huge spreaders of the virus. This, in turn, probably provides some pro-daycare views.

Despite this, as we note there, it’s not right to say that kids cannot get COVID-19, and if you send them to daycare (or camp or school) they are more likely to be infected than if you keep them home and do not expose them to other people. This both means they may get sick and they could spread to you. This is just the reality that we have to live with.

There are things we can do to make this less risky. For example: encourage everyone to reinforce the idea of keeping kids home when they are even a little sick or if they’ve been exposed to someone with COVID. Make sure people wash hands, and so on. Keeping kids in smaller groups will also help. But the risk will be there; this is the nature of the pandemic.

So thinking about this means thinking a bit about your family situation. How important is it for you for your kid to be back at daycare or school? This could be importance for work or for mental health. How important do you feel this is for your child? Not an easy question to answer and will differ across families. You’ll probably also want to think about adults - is your child often exposed to elderly or immunocompromised adults? This would raise the risk.

In the end, different families may come down differently on this. There isn’t really one right choice.