Why experts are urging parents to avoid play dates for their kids

The weather’s getting nicer and schools are closed, but experts are warning parents that it’s still not OK to let kids have play dates with friends during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

“It’s hard. It’s really hard,” said Allison Lowry on keeping kids away from in-person visits with friends.

Lowry is the program manager of child abuse and neglect prevention services at Fairfax County, Virginia’s Department of Family Services.

Some parents might question why kids should be denied visits with people they typically see regularly from one or two other families. But currently, practicing social distancing is paramount, medical officials say.

“The key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 is to limit contact as much as possible,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises. “While school is out, children should not have in-person playdates with children from other households.”

Lowry doesn’t believe children are capable of adhering to the 6-foot rule for social distancing.

“I think that’s a lot to ask of a child,” Lowry said. “Developmentally, their brains aren’t processing consequences as much as adult brains are.”

And while they may understand that it is important to stay away from their friend, they may “not really understand the consequences of what that means,” she said.

Lowry suggests virtual visits, such as video chats with friends on the phone via FaceTime or online with Zoom conference calls.

She also said riding bikes with family or playing catch with siblings could help keeps kids busy.

“Go on a walk,” Lowry advised before adding, “Step off the path, when another family is coming.”

You can find additional social distancing-related tips on the Fairfax County COVID-19 page.

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Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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