It’s the only thing anybody is really talking about these days. When should the country reopen? And by extension, when does my state, county, city and neighborhood reopen? But while all those questions are legitimate and often controversial, for parents the real question is more granular. And personal.
When should you reopen your family to the outside world? And conversely, when is it safe to open the outside world to your family? Is it necessary? And how can you do it in the safest possible way, if it is? Just as with the rest of the country, there are no simple answers and there is no one size fits all solution. But there are factors to consider when making the decision.
Listen to your community officials
For now, the guidelines issued by the federal government for the reopening of society are not being followed by many states, counties and local communities. But that doesn’t mean you ignore what’s happening around you. In fact, you must listen to local guidelines an make sure you abide by them including whether you need to wear masks, whether you can visit parks and beaches and other guidelines.
Even within Miami-Dade County, however, the guidelines vary. While Miami-Dade County has opened parks and allows certain activities, the City of Miami has not. Every one of the county’s 34 cities has its own guidelines, so find out what are yours and stick to them as much as possible. There will likely be conflicts between different cities that make little sense, but err on the side of caution to avoid running afoul of authorities and more importantly, to keep your family safe.
Remember also that the situation changes often, sometimes daily, so any restrictions that are lifted can also be reinstated if the public abuses the privileges. In Miami Beach, for example, South Pointe park was reopened only to be closed a couple of days later when too many people were observed not wearing masks and social distancing. The park was then reopened again this week.
Resist the temptation to follow others
If you’ve been out on the streets lately, you’ll likely have seen increases in traffic, both in vehicles and pedestrians. It’s obvious that not everyone is taking social distancing and other guidelines seriously. In such cases, you might consider easing up your own guard; but don’t succumb to the desire, especially if it is not necessary.
You might have seen children on playdates already, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay. Even if your children ask why some can go meet friends and others cannot, be firm with your response and explain that it is not acceptable (you can soften it with a “yet” qualifier).
While essential workers must continue working out in public, it is still critical for those who don’t need to be out to stay inside. Miami-Dade County continues to have the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and the highest number of deaths in the state, so while other parts of the country, state and even South Florida might be loosening their restrictions (advisable or not!), it is critical for those in our county to remain as vigilant as possible.
Consider the repercussions on your family
It is crucial for parents to make decisions that are most prudent for their children and other family members based on what is best for them. If you have a child with an underlying medical issue that will make them more vulnerable to COVID-19, then it’s up to you to tighten any restrictions on going out in public for as long as you can. Same applies to households with senior citizens, or visits with grandparents. If you can avoid them, do so.
Child care is particularly troublesome subject as many parents who must go back to work are left without any options over who will take care of their kids. It is a national problem, with about half of the US labor force being parents who are now looking for answers to who will take care of kids when they are back at work. In Miami, most child care facilities are barely hanging and while The Children’s Trust is doing its part to financially supports them and early learning centers, the options are still limited. Getting back to work and back out in society is even more complicated for these families.
No one knows the needs of a family better than the parents and it is ultimately primarily up to them to make the right decision. That doesn’t mean that there are not situations that are complicated and confusing, or that some decisions on when to go back to work or out in public will not be difficult. Seek help when you need it, from a variety of sources. If you don’t know where to look, call 211 for some guidance and direction.