June 7, 2021

MMS tips on a safe return to summer activities for children

The physicians of the Massachusetts Medical Society recognize the need for a return to activities that help to foster physical, mental, and emotional wellness in children and support a return to these activities.  While children do not typically suffer the same potentially serious health consequences as adults when they contract COVID-19, they still can become dangerously ill and may carry and spread the virus. It is important to use specific measures to protect them.

With that in mind, the Massachusetts Medical Society urges parents and guardians of children who plan to return to group activities this summer to consider these safety tips:

·         Get them vaccinated - Ensure that your child is vaccinated, if they are age 12 or older. The vaccines are proven to be safe and effective and have gone through rigorous scientific process and trials across all age groups. If you have questions about the vaccine, please schedule time to discuss with your child’s physician or health care provider

·         Know vaccine protection timeline when planning - Remember that, even if your child has received the first or second dose of the vaccine, they are not considered fully protected until two weeks have passed from the administering of the second shot. Please note that timeline and compare it to your child’s schedule of activities

·         Use expert health guidelines - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided guidance for youth summer activities. Please familiarize yourself with these guidelines and ensure that your child’s camp, sports, or other activity is aware of and adheres to CDC and state and local guidelines

·         Mask use - If you or your child’s physician and health care provider feel that it is best for your child to wear a mask in some or all settings – regardless of whether they are required or not – encourage mask use. Prepare your children for the probability that some of their peers or adult staff may still need to or prefer to wear masks (The Massachusetts Medical Society endorses the use of masks for all those wishing to reduce the risk of respiratory tract infection during the time of year when respiratory pathogens are most likely to circulate and whenever respiratory infections are known to be circulating when people are in close contact and indoors.) 

·         Keep kids home when sick - When your child is ill with even minimal symptoms, please keep them home from their activities and contact their physician or health care provider

·         Ask for safety protocols - Ask the directors of the activity for a copy of the list of protocols and precautions in place and how they plan to ensure that children are supervised and reminded to deploy the safety measures; this is especially important for overnight camps at which an increased amount of time is spent in communal settings

·         Urge your child to advocate for themselves - Encourage your child to report illness to staff if they begin to feel unwell while participating in their activity

·         Follow health guidelines - Remind your children to be attentive to and compliant with directives given by activity supervisors regarding social distancing, mask use and hand-washing

·         Always be prepared - While parents and guardians should expect the locations of their child’s activities to have ample supply of hand sanitizer, consider packing extra for your child

·         Sharing is off-limits for now - Remind your children that sharing food and drinks is not safe