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Here’s what you need to know during the COVID-19 crises

COVID, babysitter, kids

For working parents in the Hudson Valley, life is utter chaos right now. With schools and day care facilities closed because of the coronavirus outbreak, parents are trying to work from home while also caring for — and sometimes home-schooling — their kids.

This juggling act is slightly less crazy for parents who are fortunate enough to have nannies or regular babysitters, but these families are also facing tough decisions and sometimes new laws and recommendations. If you’re practicing social distancing, is it OK to invite a babysitter into your home? What if you’re worried that your caregiver might get your family sick?

First, some reassurance: According to a recent New York Times story, “while our natural inclination is to worry foremost about our kids, the available research largely suggests that most children who get COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, do not get seriously sick.” According to a study by the journal Pediatrics, about half of kids who get sick develop mild symptoms, including a fever, dry cough and runny nose. A little more than a third of children in the study developed moderate symptoms, which can include pneumonia, and 6 percent — particularly babies and preschoolers — developed very serious symptoms.

With the rules and restrictions regarding “non-essential workers,” it’s unclear exactly how the order applies to nannies and babysitters, but, the National Domestic Workers Alliance advise that nannies should stay home unless they care for children of essential workers such as emergency medical workers, health care workers, and sanitation workers.

If your babysitter is still legally allowed to work and you want him or her to work, keep in mind that every person who comes into your home could bring germs and also be exposed to your family’s germs, so it’s important to minimize potential risk. So, educate yourself by reading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for businesses and employers.

Here are a few suggestions for parents and caregivers to keep in mind:

  • If you hire a nanny, you are an employer and your house is a workplace. Among other things, you’ll want to routinely clean frequently touched surfaces in your home, such as doorknobs and bathroom fixtures, and actively encourage your caregiver to stay home if they’re sick.

  • Have a conversation with your nanny/babysitter about keeping everyone safe.  Share guidelines and other important information with your caregiver, too. For instance, the government now advises Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.

  • Talk to your sitter about how the infection spreads and how they can reduce risk by washing their hands, using hand sanitizer and not touching their face. Make sure they understand the symptoms of COVID-19, and tell them to inform you immediately — and stay home — if they develop any symptoms, such as a fever or a cough. And of course, be open with your caregiver about your own situation.



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