Some parents are adapting to having their kids home for the next few weeks while schools are closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Sunday recommended that schools close for four weeks, after the state discovered “substantial community spread” of the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Angie Yates has a kindergartener and a four-year-old in the Sioux City Community School District, with no school for at least the next four weeks. She is a computer programmer who works from home, and her husband is a college professor who is preparing to teach online. Yates said she doesn’t want her boys playing with their iPads all the time during the break.
“There’s going to be some of that,” Yates said. “I don’t want to stress them out too much, but I also want them to know that there’s some comfort in a routine, and knowing kind of what’s going to be happening.”
Yates said her family has been doing some science activities, like making slime, or a homemade xylophone from glasses filled with water. They’re looking at some free online lesson plans to keep their kids engaged.
“We’re going to look through some of those and see if we can incorporate some of those into the day,” Yates said.
Shoshana Salowitz of Des Moines has been working from home and watching her two-year-old. She is the engagement and volunteer manager for Des Moines Area Religious Council. When IPR spoke with her on Wednesday, she said her son had dumped his water bottle onto the kitchen floor and was driving a toy truck through it.
“Right now, he is on the floor playing with a giant train set,” Salowitz said, “and I’m hoping it keeps him occupied for the few minutes it’s going to take me to clean up the disaster in the kitchen. That’s where we are right now. That’s been our typical routine for the past few days.”
The plan is "very loose" right now, working remotely from home and caring for her son, she said.
"It's to try to stay calm, try to stay centered, try to ensure that our child is as unaware of what's happening as possible, while also being aware of things that need to change around our house that include him," Salowitz said.
The day care Salowitz sends her son to in West Des Moines is still open, but she said she pulled him from day care out of an “overabundance of caution.”
“My instinct as a parent is to apply an overabundance of caution and just plan on this being our new normal for an indefinite period of time,” Salowitz said.
Salowitz said it’s hard finding a routine like her son would have at day care. Her son is very social, so she has been looking at ways to keep him interacting, through video calls with friends and family. For other parents that don’t have the same flexibility to work from home and take care of their kids as Salowitz and Yates do, many child care centers have remained open.
Child care is business as usual at many places, including The Learning Corner in Sioux City. Ashley Fleming, who founded The Learning Corner, said the center is required to follow specific health and cleaning procedures from the local health department on a daily basis, and they’ve been increasing those during the COVID-19 outbreak. They’ve also been increasing the amount of handwashing, she said.