From Multnomah County Health
After months of isolation from friends and the classroom, children are understandably eager to reconnect. With school buildings s closed at least through fall, families have begun creating small groups — often called cohorts or “pods” — within which their children can socialize and learn.
As a community, our primary goal must be to return children to class, where all children can have access to the educational and social opportunities that support learning, health, and happiness. We will reach that goal more quickly by following public health guidance to keep kids at home and avoid introducing new people into the social circle.
Households that do decide to expand their circle should agree on how to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 and discuss concerns about equity and social responsibility.
Below are questions to prompt that conversation:
- How much contact are children and household members of each child having with people outside the “pod”?
- What precautions are children and their household members taking in their lives outside this group?
- Do you keep a list of people you interact with? Track your interactions for a few days to assess your personal risk.
- Are people eating indoors at restaurants right now?
- Do your kids play at playgrounds with other kids?
- Are adults meeting socially or for work with people outside their household?
- What should a family do if they hear they have had close contact (15 minutes or more within 6 feet) with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
- How can families join even if they do not have the flexibility to support the group during work hours?
- How can families join even if they can’t afford the shared cost of childcare or tutoring?
- Can a small group truly be equitable. Read and discuss concerns about equity.
- Are there alternatives to an organized small group of children that would better support development of all children?
- How can the group work to be actively anti-racist?
- What are the legal implications of such a group?
- At what point could your group become a defacto daycare, requiring licensing?
The Oregon Health Authority in July issued guidance on “camps” for children that households may consider if they choose to organize a cohort of children. In addition, consider the following public health recommendations:
- Limit the group to 10 or fewer children.
- Limit the hours children spend together.
- Routinely ask about symptoms of children and their household members
- Schedule activities outdoors as much as possible
- Children age 2 and over should wear face coverings when indoors and if they cannot routinely keep 6 feet apart.
- When indoors, improve air flow by opening doors and windows and using fans. Avoid air recirculation.
- Practice routine hand washing
- Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces
- Children who become ill or have household members who become ill should remain home
- Families should jot down in a calendar or notebook anytime they gather with others outside the group, including the names and dates when gatherings occurred. This helps case investigators in the event someone tests positive.