Pools? Movies? Restaurants? How parents can give kids a safe summer

Public health experts weigh in on how to navigate summertime activities for children.

Kristy Cruz and her husband just broke the news to the younger of their three children—16, 12, and 10—that a large family gathering planned for the Florida Keys wouldn’t be happening after all. Between questions over how well the destination facilities could be kept clean, to concerns for older family members’ health, Cruz says it just seemed more prudent to stay closer to home.

“We’re military, so they were upset about not getting to see their extended family and cousins, and they had so many questions about what we would get to do this summer,” says Cruz, who lives in Maryland. “We told them that we’d still try to go out and eat and do a lot of outdoor things—go to the lake, float on the river, stay in a cabin or camp. If it’s something we can do safely, we’ll still try to do it with them.” (Get ideas for keeping kids safe outside.)

Like many other plans disrupted by COVID-19, summertime activities are no exception. Even now, as states begin phased reopenings of restaurants, retail stores, movie theaters, outdoor concert venues, and other public spaces like parks and beaches, uncertainty over what’s possible—or what’s safe—makes summer fun tough to plan. (Find out if flushing a public toilet could really spread COVID-19.)