Guidance for providing child care during COVID-19

Dear Students,

We know that many of you, in an effort to help our front-line healthcare providers, are offering your time to provide childcare.  We have concerns about the safety of this work both for you and for the community, but we acknowledge that you will continue to support your colleagues in the medical community in this way.  Below are some guidelines developed by the School of Medicine for childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.  We hope you will read these guidelines carefully as you consider this option.

Thank you for everything that you are doing in this difficult time,
The Service Learning Team


Can young children get COVID-19?

Yes.  There is abundant evidence that children of all ages can become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 in children?

The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in adults and children: fever, muscle aches, cough, shortness of breath, congestion.  Vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported.  In general, children have presented with milder symptoms compared to adults.

Can you tell the difference between COVID-19 and all the other colds that children get?

Unfortunately, you cannot distinguish COVID-19 from other viral illnesses without testing.

Are children of healthcare workers more likely to be exposed?

We are seeing community-wide spread of COVID-19 in Seattle and other areas of the WWAMI region.  We have no evidence at this time that children of healthcare workers are more likely to be exposed or infected.

How can I best protect myself and my family?

The advice for avoiding COVID-19 for those providing childcare is the same for everyone.

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, helping a child cough or blow their nose, before eating, and before touching your face. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces frequently, and at least daily, including:
    • Door knobs
    • Counter tops
    • Tables
    • Chairs
    • Light switches
    • Toys
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a lined trash can and wash your hands.
  • Practice social distancing

Changing your clothing on arrival home is not a standard practice, but may be warranted if children have coughed or sneezed on your clothes.

Masks (surgical or N95) are not recommended for those that do not have symptoms.

If I take care of or live with someone who is at higher risk of severe illness with coronavirus, should I be providing childcare?

If you are taking care of people who are considered higher risk, you should practice strict social distancing.

Where can I go for more information?