Teens, Tweens and COVID-19

Questions and Answers on Gathering Safely

By Katie Souliere, RN Ottawa Public Health June 11, 2020

Your kids are bored. They only tell you that about 75 times a day. If you are a working parent, juggling work and home life has been trickier than ever. Perhaps over the past few weeks you have been considering (or letting) your tween/teen get together with their friends. You have carefully weighed the pros and cons and allowed them to expand their social circle for the sake of their sanity, and yours. 

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) wants to help you make informed decisions. Currently, gathering with anyone outside of your household is not recommended. We know that reality vs expectation are two different things and hope we can provide some guidance here for parents and their tweens/ teens. 

Q: My 12-year-old meets with their friends at the park to play soccer on nice days. How can I help them understand the importance of physical distancing? 

A: Firstly, kudos to any tween interested in getting a bit of sun and exercise! 

The current Guidance from City Parks does allow the use of sports fields (competitive team sports are not permitted at this time). Emergency Provincial Orders as of May 27, 2020, state that groups over 5 people cannot gather. Right now, this is the law.

Explaining the importance of physical distancing is summed up well in this short video from CBC Kids: Flattening the Curve 

Q: My 14-year-old has been going to their friend’s house to play video games. I am worried because I have asthma. Does this put me more at risk? 

A: If you have asthma you are at risk for more severe effects from contracting the virus, but you are not more likely to get COVID-19 because you have asthma.

It is important to keep in mind that the more exposure your household members have to others outside the household, the higher the risk of exposure to COVID-19. It is best to limit interactions with people outside of your home. 

COVID-19 and Asthma

Q: My 17-year-old informs me of where they are going, but I do not have control of *who, or how many people they will see. Is there anything I can do to make sure they are safe in their interactions?

A: Yes. You can provide your teen the information they need to stay safe and reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19. 

  • Physical distancing: if possible, stay 2 metres a part. 
  • Wearing a mask: wear a mask when they could get too close. Consider purchasing or making a personalized mask for your teen in a pattern they choose. 
  • Hand washing: Remind your teen to ALWAYS wash their hands when they get home. Provide hand sanitizer at the front door or put up hand washing signs around the house as a reminder. 

*The above recommendations also apply for teens wanting to spend time with their partner.

OPH knows that every situation presents unique challenges for every parent. Being informed is the best way to equip yourself in supporting your teen/tween. You may not be able to control their actions, especially outside the home, but you can emphasize that they play a part in reducing the spread of COVID-19. 

We urge parents to visit our Facebook Parenting in Ottawa Pageto join our daily conversations about navigating parenthood, especially in this exceptional time. Or, visit our website, to get more information on parenting during COVID-19.