WASHINGTON - COVID-19 cases have increased in the United States over the last several weeks as the Delta variant -- the most contagious coronavirus mutant so far in the pandemic -- rapidly spreads across the country.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges everyone who can -- to get vaccinated. But what about children who aren’t yet eligible?
HOW CAN I PROTECT MY UNVACCINATED FAMILY MEMBERS?
These are the best ways to protect your unvaccinated family members, including children who cannot get vaccinated yet:
- Get vaccinated yourself. COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of people getting COVID-19 and can also reduce the risk of spreading it.
- Be sure to get everyone in your family who is 12 years or older vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Wear a mask.
- To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, have everyone in your family, even those who are vaccinated, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
- You might choose to have everyone in your family, even those who are vaccinated, wear a mask indoors in public regardless of the level of transmission in your area.
- Unvaccinated family members, including children 2 years and older, should wear a mask in all indoor public settings.
- To set an example, you also might choose to wear a mask.
- Do NOT put a mask on children younger than 2 years old.
CHOOSE SAFER ACTIVITIES FOR YOUR FAMILY
- Avoid activities that make it hard to stay 6 feet away from others.
- If your family member is younger than 2 years old or cannot wear a mask, limit visits with people who are not vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown and keep distance between your child and other people in public.
THINGS YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL OR CHILD CARE PROGRAM MAY CONSIDER
When making decisions about how to keep students and staff safe, school and child care program administrators should consider:
- How many cases of COVID-19 are in your community.
- The number of people vaccinated in your community
- Ages of children in the school or child care program.
As the situation in your community changes, school and child care program administrators may change policies.
Your child’s school or child care program may layer prevention measures in the classroom or during other activities, meaning they may use many prevention measures at the same time. Using layered prevention measures is important when some prevention measures cannot be used. For example, when people are not able to physically distance from each other, using other prevention measures can still help stop the spread of COVID-19.
When teachers, staff, and children who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask, they protect others as well as themselves. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.
School and child care program administrators may choose to make mask use universally required in your child’s school or child care program if
- Children are younger than 12 and are not yet eligible for vaccination.
- The number of COVID-19 cases is increasing or high in the school or your community.
- The number of cases caused by a variant of concern is increasing or high in the school or your community.
- The school or child care program is not able to monitor the vaccine status of children, teachers, or staff.
- The school or child care program cannot enforce mask policies that are not universal.
- Schools and child care programs can make exceptions for children who cannot wear a mask or cannot safely wear a mask.
- Masks are required on all public transportation, including school buses. Regardless of the mask policy at school, passengers and drivers must wear a mask on school buses operated by public or private school systems. Learn more about face masks on public transportation.
PHYSICAL DISTANCING AND COHORTING
Your child’s school or child care program will have a policy about physical distancing.
Young children need to be close to caregivers during diapering, feeding, and comforting. Your child’s program may use cohorting. Cohorting means keeping children together in a small group and having each group stay together throughout an entire day. This is used to limit the number of children and staff who come in contact with each other. Your child’s program may also maximize time outdoors, stagger drop-off and pick-up times, and maintain 6 feet between cohorts.
Teachers and staff can:
- Teach students to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Remind students
and help young children with handwashing.
- Provide hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if handwashing is not possible. Young children should have adult supervision when using hand sanitizer.
- Set up handwashing or hand sanitizing stations at facility entrances.
- Wash their hands after holding, washing, or feeding young children.
- Wash their hands before and after changing a child’s diaper or handling infant bottles.
KEEP YOUR CHILD HOME IF THEY ARE SICK
If your child is sick or has symptoms of COVID-19, they should stay home. Call your child’s healthcare provider for testing and care. Staying home when sick with COVID-19 keeps COVID-19 infections out of schools and child care programs and prevents spread to others.
Know when your child should quarantine or isolate.
SPORTS AND OTHER ACTIVITIES
Some sports may make players, coaches, and trainers more likely to get and spread COVID-19 because of physical contact and increased breathing. Other extracurricular activities, such as band, choir, theater, and school clubs that meet indoors, may also make students and staff more likely to get or spread COVID-19.
- Students should not participate in these activities when they have symptoms of COVID-19 and should be tested.
- Students who participate in indoor sports and other higher-risk activities should continue to wear masks and physically distance as much as possible.