As you all know the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD announced the closure of schools, pre-schools and further and higher education settings, for students, for a period until 29 March 2020, to support efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19. This is in line with the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team. The Government, in conjunction with the public health authorities, will keep the situation under ongoing review. Any change to that date will be communicated as soon as it is known. All pupils are urged to practise social distancing, and to minimise physical contact with each other, to help avoid the spread of Covid-19. This should include minimising social contact, avoiding meeting up and keeping physical space between them. Parents and guardians are urged to support their children to maintain this approach. We hope that the following section might help you with some information if you don’t already have it.
COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Health advice for parents and children
Published: 13 March 2020
From: Department of Health and Department of Education and Skills
- 1. School/Creche Closures
- 2. Childcare
- 3. Playdates, Playing Outside and Playgrounds
- 4. Cleaning the Home
- 5. Explaining COVID-19 (Coronavirus) to Children
- 6. Children with Underlying Health Conditions
These guidelines are correct as of Friday 13 March and will be added to upon active review and consideration.
The following institutions will close to students:
- educational institutions including creches/kindergartens, primary and secondary schools
- higher educational institutions, including universities, research institutes and so on
These facilities will remain closed until 29 March and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.
COVID-19 is an infectious disease. Our delay strategy is planned to slow down the spread of the virus. These social distancing measures should significantly reduce the total number of cases and deaths and the demand for hospital capacity during the peak of the epidemic.
Children may play a significant role in spreading this virus.
Even if all are deemed healthy, social distancing should be practiced. This is especially the case in relation to vulnerable groups like older people.
It is strongly recommended that those who are asked to mind children during this time should NOT be older than age 75, or have a chronic disease, or be in an immunosuppressed state.
Children who are sick should not visit anybody.
Childminding in the Home
A childminder can come to your home, if appropriate social distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette measures are maintained between all concerned and the childminder is not a member of a vulnerable group.
Playdates, Playing Outside and Playgrounds
Parents should try and avoid arranging play dates for groups of young children at this early stage of the outbreak.
However, rather than staying indoors, consider outdoor activities such as playing football in the open in small groups of 3 or 4 while maintaining social distancing of 2 metres.
Continue to spend time outdoors. The fresh air is good for kids, and for you as parents. But please do this as a family rather than meeting up in groups.
While some playgrounds may be closed, those that are open may still be visited – but it is important to stress that appropriate social distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette measures need to be maintained in all situations.
Cleaning the Home
At home, continue to follow your usual hand hygiene practices. Clean surfaces regularly with a detergent, disinfectant or disinfectant wipe; this includes counters, table-tops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets & toilet handles, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables.
Explaining COVID-19 (Coronavirus) to Children
Let the child/young person’s questions and their age guide as to how much information to provide:
- very young children need brief, simple information and reassurance that they are safe and that the people they care about are safe. They may ask Will I get sick? Will granny/grandad die?
- reassure them that nurses and doctors are working hard to ensure that people throughout the country stay healthy
- explain that at the present moment very few people in this country are sick with the virus
- tell them that not everyone will get the virus and that the vast majority who get it recover fully
- older children may need help to separate reality from rumour and fantasy. Either provide or direct them to where they can find accurate, and factual information about the current status of COVID-19. Having such knowledge can help them feel a sense of control
Children and young people look to the adults in their lives to guide them on how to react to worrying and stressful events.
If the adults in their lives seem overly worried, their own anxiety may rise:
- if they are anxious, let them talk about their feelings and guide them in reframing their thoughts and concerns to a more helpful way of thinking
- give them extra attention and time, to talk about their concerns, fears, and questions. o Remember they do not always talk about their concerns readily. Watch for clues that they may want to talk, such as hovering around while you do the dishes and so on
- it is very typical for younger children to ask a few questions, return to playing and then come back with further questions
Children with Underlying Health Conditions
Worry is understandable. However, from the data so far, children are the group least affected by Covid-19.
It is not yet known whether some children may be at higher risk of severe illness, for example children with underlying medical conditions or special healthcare needs.
However, children and adults with underlying conditions should be vigilant in watching out for symptoms, and strictly following the hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and social distancing guidance.
It is important to try and maintain normal activities for children’s overall well being.