07 January 2022
School holidays and the rise of Omicron in Australia has been less than ideal for anxious pandemic-weary parents trying to keep their kids COVID-free in our ‘new normal’. Now experts have warned of a surge in COVID-19 cases among children when they head back to school and daycare in coming weeks – many of them yet to be armed with the proven protection of the vaccine. Even though the data says most children will only experience a mild infection with COVID-19 however, they can still pass it on to others, so it’s important to keep your guard up for this next leg of the COVID journey. With that in mind, here are 5 simple ways to keep your kids COVID-safe if they’re not yet vaccinated.
1. Wash hands regularly
It’s been drilled into all of us for almost two years now, but ensuring our children’s hands are washed thoroughly throughout the day is one of the most effective ways to keep COVID-19 at bay. Practising good hand and respiratory hygiene is also important to help protect you and your family.
Always remember to:
- clean hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs
- cover the nose and mouth with a tissue or flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing
- stay away from with anyone who has cold-like symptoms
- keep children at home from school or childcare if they are unwell
- try to stay at least 1.5 metres away from people coughing or sneezing
- if you or your child are unwell, avoid sharing utensils, cups and glasses.
2. Wear a mask
Even if it isn‘t mandatory, wearing a mask still offers one of the best forms of protection from becoming infected, especially in crowded public places like shopping centres. Children under 12 are not required to wear a mask but encouraged to wear one if they are willing to. For safety reasons, children under the age of two should not wear a mask. To help encourage your kids to wear a mask, try letting them choose one in their favourite colour or one that has their favourite movie character or sports team on it. And always model mask-wearing yourself.
3. Prioritise outdoor play
One of the simplest ways to minimise the spread of COVID-19 is to prioritise outdoor play in your family’s routine. Being outside allows every to stay a safe physical distance from others – and with the added benefit of natural ventilation and air flow. There are many activities your family can safely do outside, including sports, cycling, bushwalking, swimming or for the less energetic, reading, meditating and having a picnic. Need more ideas? Try these 23 fun and free ways to get kids active.
4. Keep indoor spaces well ventilated
You can’t do everything outside, but there are a few ways to keep everyone safe when inside. First and foremost, keeping groups on the smaller side when socialising inside and be sure to have plenty of room for people to be at least 1.5 metres apart. Keeping inside areas well ventilated is also important. Open windows and doors where possible rather than using air conditioning to let fresh air flow freely.
5. Ensure adults are vaccinated
The quickest route to keeping unvaccinated children safe is to have all the adults and older children around them fully vaccinated. Children often get exposed to the virus from the adults they are in contact with, so vaccinating the adults and older siblings in a child’s household, can help protect them until they are able to be vaccinated themselves.