Many families are facing the same question. Should we create a learning pod for our kids? How about a socializing pod for younger children who have not yet started school?
Socialization is very important for children and the pandemic has created new challenges for all of us. According to the science, no interactions are risk free, and some states have many more Covid-19 cases than others. Some families are choosing to do everything virtually. Other families have decided to "bubble up" with another family to allow their children time to play with children outside the home. Finding a like minded family who is being equally as safe during the pandemic is probably a safer option than a pod with multiple children. But for some families, a pod of 4-5 kids might be just what they are looking for. It is important to weigh all of the considerations before deciding to form a learning pod, and you should check with the rules and laws of your state before beginning.
Some things to consider before forming a pod:
1. Is it legal in my state to begin a learning pod? Each state and city has different rules, so you'll have to research your own state. If it is okay to form a pod, make sure to consider things like homeowners insurance, teacher's insurance, waivers, assumption of risk forms, etc. While nothing is 100% protective, you want to make sure you are taking all the necessary steps before you begin. Speak with your insurance company before diving in. Every pod home should also have completed emergency contact forms for each child with emergency contacts, phone numbers, and any allergies or special needs of the child.
2. How many kids will be in the pod? This is a decision for each pod. From a statistical standpoint, fewer kids equals less risk of contracting Covid-19. It's important that your pod isn't too big. While there is no magic number, it looks like families who are creating pods, are choosing to have 4-5 children in a pod.
3. What will be your safety protocols in the pod? Will you take temperatures? Will your pod be outside only? Will the kids and adults wear masks? What is the hand washing schedule? How will you sanitize? Will pod members get tested regularly? What happens if someone gets sick? Each state has its own health department rules and recommendations and we recommend you read them. It's a good idea to write all of your safety protocols down and strictly follow them.
4. What are the safety protocols for pod families during the rest of their week? Finding like minded families is probably the key to creating a pod. It is important that the pod families have open communication and trust. The idea of a pod is that kids and parents don't physically socialize with anyone outside the pod. This helps limit the exposure risk.
Remember, this pandemic is fluid and circumstances continue to change. What may be right for your family now, may not be right next week, or next month. Don't be afraid to pivot and adapt. With flu season coming, you may decide to shift your pod to a virtual pod. While pods can be a lot of work, the positive of having a pod, is that it can function as a support for families to weather this storm. It is great to have families you trust going through this with you. Even if your pod has to be virtual, you might be helping your children foster lifelong friendships they wouldn't otherwise have.