Parents aren’t allowed inside the school grounds where my son goes. This has been the biggest policy change in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped the world in fear. It’s a pre-school, or rather an Early Childhood Development Centre to use the official parlance. ECDs aren’t subject to the decisions made regarding the Department of Basic Education and are less inclined to have disruptive unions.
Here are the facts we know about COVID-19, so far:
- It’s the fastest spreading single virus humanity has ever come in contact with
- It’s dangerous because it doesn’t kill hosts in large numbers and can spread through asymptomatic carriers
- There is no known cure or vaccine
- Children are susceptible to infection, but largely only present mild symptoms
- The virus spreads through human contact
The known unknowns – to paraphrase the popular knowledge quadrants – mostly revolve around community transmission. And that’s where things get a bit messy because people are scared and emotional. Misinformation and half-baked science around young children and their role in community transmission of COVID-19 is rife.
So at my son’s school they are following the best available pediatric ideas that children are not vectors for the virus (they don’t spread it to adults) as well as using the bio bubble approach that is seemingly working out well for the NBA.
The idea is simple: you sanitise an area and control all the activity in that area.
When we drop my son at school we fill out a screening information form stating any possible contact with the virus or any symptoms, he has his temperature taken, hands are washed and he sits in a holding area of maximum 4 children seated 1,5m apart where he is collected by a teacher and taken to his class.
The teachers are subjected to more intense screening and are discouraged from exposing themselves to unnecessary risks in their personal capacity.
What the NBA did was collect everyone together at the Disney complex and, after a two-week quarantine period, started to play. Everyone is subject to daily screening and regular testing and no-one else is allowed into the facilities.
Similarly if we maintain a controlled home environment and don’t introduce any contamination on the way to and from school, my son moves from one sanitary space to another and can then confidently interact with his friends at school without a mask.
Of course there are other risk reduction measures that were implemented like sneeze screens between the two kids who share a table, each child has their own activity box with crayons and toys, etc…
The same is true with the teams keeping practice areas separate.
When you’re realistic about the virus and try to understand how it moves through society, you can mitigate unnecessary risk of exposure. Wash hands regularly, wear a mask when out in public or when around people outside of your bubble, and limit contact with surfaces.
It’s simple things that can go a long way to enabling some semblance of normal life. And let your kids hug their grandparents. There’s very little threat and the positive therapeutic effects far outweigh the possibility of virus transmission according the the best science we have right now.