Maryland doctor on how to minimize health risks while letting kids be kids

A Maryland doctor advises allowing children to socialize with a limited number of friends who are all taking proper precautions. Here’s how these visits can take place safely.

As localities loosen pandemic-related restrictions, some parents may be considering letting kids see friends they have not seen in several months.

“The isolation from quarantine has already been shown to have a negative impact on kids,” said Dr. Tia Ragland Medley, medical director at the MedStar Franklin Square Pediatric Clinic in Perry Hall.

“Get kids out and about; they need to exercise; they need to talk with other kids; they need to release energy,” Medley said.

Theoretically, it’s fairly easy to keep proper distance with activities such as walking, playing hopscotch or riding bicycles.

Convincing children to respect safety guidelines — such as keeping 6 feet apart and wearing a mask in public, which professionals recommend for everyone older than 2 years old — might be as easy as appealing to their caring nature.

“Having the conversation and saying, ‘We wear masks not to protect ourselves from other people, but to protect other people from us. It’s our responsibility to take care of each other and look out for one another,” Medley said.

Medley said she is confident that this approach should work.

“Children are amazing; I love them, and they’re so loving and caring just innately.”

Current conditions dictate that outdoor activities are going to be better than indoor activities, Medley said, but kids still can socialize face-to-face remotely.

“I’ve told the parents, if you don’t want to go out, if you’re worried about that, then organize Zoom play dates with your children so they can see each other. They can play games; you can set it up so they can watch a movie together,” Medley said. “That’s a definite option for those parents who are still hesitant about going out. But, the bottom line is we can’t live in isolation forever.

Some precautions Medley would like families to keep in mind for Fourth of July holiday gatherings or play dates:

  • Make good decisions.
  • Do not share food or partake of communal food such as from a buffet.
  • Be sure sanitizer or hand washing ability is readily available.
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart from others not of your household.
  • Wear facial coverings.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue then throw it away.
  • Do not leave your home if you’re not feeling well.

If you have any questions, Medley advises consulting with your child’s health care provider.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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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