Is it safe to send your kids to day care during the coronavirus outbreak?

Stuck wondering whether to send your children to day care during the coronavirus outbreak? Here are the facts.


With schools across the country closed, and playgrounds strongly discouraged, it can seem like a no-brainer not to send your kids to school. But for many parents, day care is a necessity if they are to be able to work during the day. This leaves many parents asking if day cares can be the exception to the rule. Mark Albert spoke with Dr. Jodie Dionne-Odom, infectious disease specialist of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, to better understand the risks of day care in the coronavirus age.

"What should day care facilities [be doing]?" Albert asked. "A lot of parents want to know: Should they be sending their kids still to day care? Should the day cares be closing? What's the limit on the number of kids in the day care?"

"Yeah, as a parent of two myself, I absolutely understand and commiserate with the situation," Dionne-Odom said. "It's very challenging when schools close and day cares are having hard decisions to come up with too. I think some of the data that we're starting to see is showing that it's possible for children to be infected with COVID-19 and have minimal to no symptoms. I think for that reason, the decision that a lot of states have made, including Alabama, to close schools was the right one.

Though some day cares have continued to stay open, Dionne-Odom recommends against it.

"I know that some day cares have closed, some have not. I think that's a decision that can be informed by what the local epidemiology is and what the local public health officials are saying. But I do think that the safest place for those kids to be right now is not together in one room, but at home. I think it's important for all parents to also know with this risk of asymptomatic transmission from children, that even if your child is feeling fine, it is possible that they could transmit the virus to someone who is in that older age group or the risk category. So that's again, another call for social distancing and not having kids be outside and exposing people who are at risk."