As a parent or caregiver, you might be wondering about pods, small groups of children that get together at home.
A pod can be formed for learning, childcare or for social interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic. Families usually agree not to socialize with anyone else outside the pod.
As schools begin online learning, more and more families are also leaning on friends and neighbors for babysitting and other support as they struggle to balance work demands with childcare.
Know the Risks
No group gathering is completely safe from COVID-19. Any time you gather with people from different households, you increase your chance of catching or spreading the virus.
Older adults, and people with pre-existing health conditions are especially vulnerable to getting very sick from COVID-19.
Before you get together with another household, it’s important for everyone to talk about and understand these risks, and agree on ways to reduce them.
Everyone, including children, must know and follow COVID-19 safety basics at all times.
Follow COVID-19 Safety Basics
Teach children and caregivers to follow these rules:
- Wash hands often, for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching your face or mask
- Cover coughs and sneezes with your arm or a tissue
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces
- Wear a cloth face covering
- Stay at least 6 feet from people you don’t live with
- Limit trips and stay close to home
- If you’re sick, stay home and away from others
- Limit groups to 10 or fewer (including children and caregivers).
- Keep groups to the same children and caregivers every time.
- Limit the hours the group spends together.
- Schedule activities outdoors as much as possible.
- Open doors and windows to improve indoor airflow. Avoid recirculating air.
- Limit contact with others outside the group.
Check for Illness
- Every day, ask whether anyone in the group or at home has symptoms of COVID-19.
- Anyone should stay home if they are ill, or if someone in their house is ill.
- Use a calendar or notebook to keep track of anyone you spend time with outside the group. Include the names and dates of any gatherings. This helps case investigators if someone tests positive.
Discuss a Safety Plan
What are everyone’s responsibilities? How will you solve problems?
Everyone’s idea of risk is different. The conversation might be difficult, but it is important for everyone to agree on how to be safe. Consider talking this over AND writing it down.
Questions you might ask:
- Does everyone understand and agree to follow basic COVID-19 safety practices?
- Does anyone have elderly family members at home, or anyone with a pre-existing medical condition?
- Can children and families do these safety practices AT ALL TIMES to protect family members who are old or who have on-going medical conditions from getting very sick from COVID-19?
- Can someone help children wash hands and change soiled clothes as soon as they get home?
- How much contact do children and other household members have with people outside the group, whether socially or for work? Can this contact be reduced? If not, what other precautions can they take?
What’s the plan in case someone:
Childcare providers must follow state guidelines to make sure they can operate safely during COVID-19.
If you’re shopping for child care, ask the provider whether they’re licensed and what kinds of preventive measures they take. 211 Info can help you find child care.
If you’re thinking about joining or forming a pod, check Oregon child care licensing guidelines to see if the group is considered a day care and needs a license.
- Oregon COVID-19 Child Care Guidelines
- Oregon Child Care Licensing Requirements
- 211 Info | Child Care & Parenting