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COVID, School and the Elderly



"My 10-year-old son has returned to school this fall for in-person classes. I have no problem with him going to school--my concern has to do with my father. Dad is 78-years-old and has had some health issues. I really do not want him to get COVID. 

My son and my father are the best of buddies. Dad lives next door and is part of our stay-at-home bubble. They game, fish, and generally hang out every chance they get. It breaks my heart to think that I may need them to make some changes. How much do I need to worry about my son bringing COVID to my father? What do you recommend I do about their time together?"



Back to school is presenting new challenges for educators, parents, and the community this year, and no one really knows how it’s all going to go. We have been keeping everyone apart since March, and the COVID virus has not gone away. Now we are bringing children back together. The big question is whether or not we will be able to do so without a spike in new cases.

There is no assurance I can provide that your son will not pick up COVID-19 at school. The truth is, he might. Your bubble just grew by all of the children in his class plus their families and contacts. That is one very large group. Since schools were generally not in session this spring, we have no history to rely on with this virus. Therefore, you will need to manage this on your own.

My advice is to take reasonable steps to protect your father. Assume that your son will be exposed to the disease. COVID has proven to be very contagious, so every precaution will need to be taken. Explain to your son and your father that their exposure to each other needs to be lessened and why. 

I recommend that they stay 10 feet from each other and both wear a mask at all times. Get your son some physical item that is 10 feet long--even a tape measure to carry in his pocket could be a fun useful tool for him. Limit their time together to outdoor activities where air exchange is the best.

Make sure dad is familiar with online meeting formats. Help set it up for him if he’s not. Schedule online meetings and be present initially so that he becomes proficient with the process. 

Monitor their joint activity for now. As you know, it’s hard to break old habits. Little boys and grandpas have a special relationship. 

We do not know how back to school is going to go with COVID and it is best not to test it on your family. September is beautiful almost everywhere, so stay outdoors and at a distance.   

I wish you well.