Please Let Our Kids Out!

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We’re tired of saying “when this is over…” because we don’t know when it will be…

It’s been ten long months since our kids have seen their classmates, friends, and grandparents. It’s been ten months since they’ve played in the park — sans masks and spraying them with alcohol every five minutes. And it’s too much. Personally, I feel like a broken record every time I tell myself and my kids, “When this is over….” because, honestly, I don’t know when it will be.

Is this real?

On November 30, the media sparked false hope, reporting that minors would finally be allowed in shopping malls. Although my own children aren’t fans of malls, it seemed as if there was hope that the world’s longest lockdown would finally end. And then that hope was quickly shot down the next day, and finalized the day after.

The rationale: children are super spreaders

“Around 3% to 5% of our total infected cases are children. They’re not exempted from getting infected,” said Health Secretary of the Philippines Francisco Duque III in an interview. “When they talk or hug their family members, children could cause transmission and we would have a high infection rate.”

Their theory? Kids are super spreaders — but are they really? The thing is, scientists are still learning about the relationship between COVID-19 and kids. Some studies say that kids aren’t as likely to get the virus and also not as likely to spread it — which is why the rest of the world (and some with even with more cases than the Philippines) are opening their schools and daycares.

The new normal?

The minute my kids step out of our house, they know they can’t leave without masks on. “Mommy will I die if I don’t have a mask?” my four year-old asked one day. “No, you won’t. But you might get sick,” I told him. No thanks to the virus, my kids live in constant fear of death and getting sick — is this normal?

No, it’s not normal, and neither is stopping our kids from being outdoors and being with their friends. Yes, we get that social distancing may be helping to keep us all safe during the pandemic. But kids are in a critical stage of their lives where friendships give them the crucial support, belonging and development of personal identity they need. And because of this pandemic, they’re being forced to isolate themselves from their friends. Studies show that this could cause depression, anxiety or could worsen existing mental health issues. It’s been a confusing and very emotional time for our children, and our lawmakers need to acknowledge that.

Why not at allow interactions between kids within certain limits— just like adults? Kids need their friends too. We’re allowed to dine out in groups of five; why can’t kids play outdoors with their group of five friends?

So what do we do?

Since we can’t change the law or the minds of those who make it, we can just improvise. Since kids are allowed to exercise outdoors, we should let them make the most of it. We should make the most of whatever freedoms our children have and be more mindful of our childrens’ feelings — while wearing masks and being extra sanitized.

These are tough times, but we’re tough people. We can get through this. We’ll figure it out. In the meantime, we’ll sit outside and enjoy the sunshine. They can’t take that away from us.

Editor’s note: Information on the COVID-19 crisis is constantly changing. For the latest numbers and updates, keep checking the WHO’s website.

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