With schools closed, doctors warn parents: 'This is not vacation'

Mar 16, 2020

Schools in Monroe County have shut in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, but doctors and public officials say they want parents to know that this is not a typical school break.

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“This is not vacation,” said Dr. Stephen Cook.

Cook is a pediatrician at Golisano Children’s Hospital. He is also an associate professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center and works with the New York state office of public health.

“This is not spring break. This is not a time to go to the movies or to have play dates,” Cook said.

He said parents should not be afraid to go outside with children, but “keep your distance from people. That is the end goal.”

In King County, Washington, home to some of the country’s first school districts to shut down as COVID-19 spread, officials have been giving similar advice.

“We want social distancing, not social isolation,” the county said. “If you’re going stir-crazy, get out in nature and enjoy some fresh air. It’s important for kids to get active outside time every day, and research shows daily time outdoors boosts adults’ health and well-being.”

Getting outside the house should not mean moving to another place with crowds of people, Cook said.

“Honestly, don’t go to restaurants for now,” he said. “This is the kind of thing where you don’t have sleepovers.”

Cook said he and his wife are getting ready to spend more time with their 10-year-old, who will be home from school indefinitely.

“We’re going to get to know each other better, that’s for sure,” he said, adding that his child has some decision-making power over their plans.

“So, you know what? We may build the biggest pillow-blanket fort in the house we’ve ever had.”