Older Adults at More Risk with Schools Opening
Schools (primary, secondary and higher education) across the country have moved the goal posts so many times in the past couple of months it is hard to keep up. Online schooling, hybrid learning or simply back to school are the choices floating around nationally. Yet these decisions are not made lightly by administration, which is why they keep changing as the pandemic fluctuates.
For families who live with grandparents, the reopening of schools may pose a new risk for older family members due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the CDC has indicated that children are less likely to become infected with COVID-19 (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/), WebMD states that “germs are also passed along when you touch mucus droplets from someone else on a surface like a desk and then touch your own eyes, mouth, or nose before you get a chance to wash your hands.” Children especially are prone to touching—well just about everything. And of course, they frequently forget to wash their hands.
If a school-aged child comes home after a day at school, the park, the mall or the assortment of other activities they may be exposed to, children are more likely than not to have touched dozens of objects. In doing so, the kiddos increase your risk of exposing themselves (and you) to SARS-CoV-2 which is the virus responsible for COVID-19.
A Kaiser Family Foundation study in 2018, reported that approximately 6% of U.S. families live in multigeneration households. That translates to more than 3 million seniors at risk for contracting COVID-19 from their grandchild in the United States alone. Although “nearly half of older adults living with a school-age child are White, older people of color are significantly more likely to live with a school-age child compared to their White counterparts,” disproportionately affecting families of color according to KFF.
At Silver Sage Magazine we have two writers who live in multigenerational homes (Lynn Campbell and Donna Scrafano), which is a blessing when you read their work. Yet how can older adults safeguard themselves and still enjoy the joys and benefits of living with or caring for their grandchildren? Here are two simple tips for you and them:
One fabulous site that provides parents and grandparents an excellent tool for helping with this difficult decision regarding school is https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/decision-tool.html.
For families and educational institutions around the world, our thoughts are with you as the fall academic year quickly approaches.
Photo by @cdc