Talking to your child about COVID-19 (coronavirus)

20 March 2020

In many countries, schools have been temporarily suspended as governments try to stop the spread of COVID-19 in communities

We know that this can be worrying for adults and is likely to be very worrying for children who will no longer have their normal routine of going to school and seeing their friends.

It’s important to calmly and clearly explain to your child what is happening and why.

You can help your child by providing simple, factual, and age-appropriate information, while remaining calm yourself and listening to their concerns.

Simple stories about why school is closed and what adults are doing to keep them safe can be helpful. For younger pupils, you might say:

  • Your school is closed because more people than usual are getting sick.
  • While school is closed, you will stay at home and continue doing schoolwork. [Or explain what your child will do during this time.]
  • You can help stay healthy by washing your hands regularly and covering your coughs and sneezes. [Show them how to do this.]
  • If you feel worried about getting sick or what people are saying, talk to me or another adult. We will make sure you feel safe.

Older pupils might need more details, such as:

  • Many sicknesses, like colds and the flu, are caused by viruses. You may have heard of COVID-19, or coronavirus, a new virus that is spreading around the world.
  • Governments, health workers, and scientists around the world are working hard to keep us safe and help people who become sick.
  • Symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, a dry cough, and shortness of breath.
  • Many people who get COVID-19 will recover at home, as you do when you get a cold or the flu. Some people may need to go to the hospital to recover.
  • While school is closed, we might also avoid crowds or find that other places we like to go are closed. This is to keep everyone in our community healthy and safe.

For all pupils, teach and practice simple ways to prevent the spread of disease, including hand-washing and using hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching the face, and not sharing food or utensils. Teaching good health habits like these will help prevent the spread of colds and the flu, as well as COVID-19.

Make sure that any information you share is accurate by checking it with reliable sources, you can access guidance from:

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