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Is It Safe to Swim During COVID-19? Here’s What to Know About the Risks

Paula M Naranjo/ Parent Editor

Consider these safety precautions before swimming in a pool, lake, or the ocean this summer.

By Jessica Bennett June 01, 2020

On a hot summer day, swimming is one of the best ways to cool off while enjoying some fresh air and sunshine. But with the current coronavirus pandemic, you might be wondering if it’s safe to take a dip in a pool or hit the beach this summer. Before you pack up the sunscreen and towels, there are a few things you should know first about safe swimming during COVID-19.

kids legs splashing in a swimming pool

As with any activity that involves other people, swimming in a public area involves some risk of transmitting the virus. The level of risk depends on several factors, including proximity to others, cleaning practices, and hygiene habits. It’s important to note, however, that you aren’t likely to catch the virus from the water itself.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is believed to spread primarily by breathing in airborne droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Water dilutes these droplets, making it less likely for you to contract the virus by swallowing it. Although there is some evidence that coronaviruses can survive in water, a large amount of water in a pool or lake dilutes the virus enough to significantly lower the risk of transmission, according to reporting from The New York Times.

Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website says, “There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds.” The disinfecting chemicals, such as chlorine or bromine, typically added to the water should effectively kill the virus.

The other people in and around the water, however, could be cause for concern. Crowded beaches or busy pool locker rooms can make it difficult to maintain distance and avoid touching common surfaces. Whether you’re thinking about visiting a pool, lake, or beach, consider these safety precautions to help avoid the spread of COVID-19 while you swim.

1. Maintain your distance in and out of the water.

Outdoor airflow helps dilute the virus, but prolonged close contact with others could still pose a risk. Aim to keep at least 6 feet of distance between you and others outside your household at all times, including while in the water. Before taking young children to the pool or beach, consider whether they will be able to maintain their distance from others while swimming or playing.

2. Wear a mask, but not in the water.

If maintaining physical distance is difficult, the CDC suggests wearing a cloth face covering while sunbathing on the sand or relaxing poolside. Face masks should not be worn in the water, as the material can be difficult to breathe through when wet.

3. Practice proper hygiene.

Wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer) often, especially after touching common surfaces such as doorknobs and faucet handles in locker rooms or restrooms. Consider bringing your own disinfectant wipes to wipe down umbrellas, lounge chairs, and other pool-deck furniture before use. Cover any coughs or sneezes, and, as always, stay home if you feel ill.

In general, your risk of contracting the virus through a large body of water is low, but a few safety measures can help you stay healthy in and around the water. As long as you do it cautiously, swimming can be a safe summer activity for you and your family during COVID-19.

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6 Zoos and Aquariums Offering Live Videos of Animals for Free During New Coronavirus Outbreak

Paula M Naranjo/ Parent Editor

eating gray elephant

Watch these curious creatures wander their habitats and learn something new from the comfort of your home.

By Jennifer Aldrich March 17, 2020

As precautions due to the COVID-19 (which stands for coronavirus disease 2019) continue, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends both frequent hand washing and social distancing. Because of this, many places that hold large crowds are closing, including zoos and aquariums. But while trips to your local zoo are currently postponed, you can still get a close-up look at your favorite animals, all from the comfort of your own home.

Across the country, zoos and animal sanctuaries (some of which also include botanical centers) are featuring live-cams, interactive videos, and updates to anyone who wants to see what their exotic creatures are up to. The best part is that anyone with an internet connection can tune in. Even better: you don’t have to have a zoo membership.

Fiona the hippo under water
Fiona the hippo is the star of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s first Home Safari Facebook Live. COURTESY OF LISA HUBBARD/CINCINNATI ZOO & BOTANICAL GARDEN

Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Located in Seminole, Florida, the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens is currently closed until further notice. Since the announcement of the closure, the organization launched The Zoo Comes to You, an educational Facebook Live series airing weekdays at 2 p.m. EST. The first episode, which aired yesterday on Facebook, featured Butterscotch, a rabbit, eating a snack.

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Since its March 14 closure, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden announced it would be showcasing a video series on Facebook Live called Home Safari. Each episode highlights some of the animals and also includes an activity you can do at home, such as an online quiz about the presented animal. Each installment airs at 3 p.m. EST and began on Monday on the site’s Facebook page. The first airing featured Fiona, a Nile hippo, one of the most famous animals at the zoo.

Houston Zoo

From March 13 to April 3, the Houston Zoo will keep its doors shut. During that time, the zoo is posting video updates on different animals. The first one, a live video that played around 2:30 p.m. EST on Monday, showcased giraffes enjoying a leafy snack from two zookeepers. Viewers were able to ask the keepers questions via Facebook comments, and employees answered their questions in real-time.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Although the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, is closed from March 12-27, the animals are still showing off via different live feeds that you can watch every day of the year. Check out the penguins, sharks, jellyfish, birds, or one of the other cameras on the aquarium’s website.

San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is closed until April 1, but you can still watch the animals through 10 different live cams, plus archived videos of pandas from January through April 2019. (These cameras are available all year long, whether the park is open or closed.) On the website, the zoo is streaming videos of baboons, penguins, polar bears, apes, koalas, giraffes, owls, elephants, tigers, and condors 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, which is closed until March 29, has been making the rounds on social media with its videos of penguins roaming around the grounds. The latest post showcases a pair named Edward and Annie exploring the rotunda, and the aquarium notes it will continue to share other animals in their habitats.

Many zoos are still accepting donations while they remain closed due to COVID-19 concerns. If you’d like to chip in, head to one of the websites listed above, or check out your local zoo’s website to see how you can help.

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Latino immigrant advocates bring crucial support to families during COVID-19 pandemic

Paula M Naranjo/ Parent Editor

June 3, 2020, 7:22 PM CDT | By Jesse Vad and Luca Powell

“These are people who cannot afford not to go to work,” says a program director at a nonprofit who’s gone from helping organize workers to delivering groceries to them.

Members of the "relief brigades" organized by New Immigrant Community Empowerment in Queens, New York, with supplies that will be distributed to immigrant families.
Members of the “relief brigades” organized by New Immigrant Community Empowerment in Queens, New York, with supplies that will be distributed to immigrant families.Diana Moreno / New Immigrant Community Empowerment

In normal times, Diana Moreno helped immigrant workers secure work and get paid.

Moreno and the New York City nonprofit New Immigrant Community Empowerment, or NICE, whose Workers Rights Program she directs, advocate on behalf of jornaleros, Latino immigrant day laborers who work for contractors. The center acts as a liaison between workers and employers, ensuring that contractors don’t withhold wages and that laborers are paid adequately and are organized according to experience.

But that was before COVID-19 upended life in the heavily immigrant neighborhood of Jackson Heights, Queens, where NICE is based. Now, with no jobs to be had, Moreno’s focus has shifted: She’s simply helping immigrant families get access to food.

“The first wave was joblessness and unemployment,” Moreno said. “And these are people who cannot afford not to go to work.”

Across the country, advocates like Moreno are working to provide basic necessities to immigrant families, especially those without legal status who lack a safety net and are too worried or threatened to seek medical treatment or help. Mobilizing relief efforts

In New York, NICE is one of many groups pivoting from their regular missions. Its “relief brigade” brings groceries to families in the neighborhoods of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, which have some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 casualties in the city.

“Despite them being part of a high-need population, they are still giving their time and effort to food distribution efforts,” Moreno said of the neighborhood members helping deliver the much-needed items.

Moreno, 32, who has been working in New York for the past year after moving there from Gainesville, Florida, said “layer upon layer” of issues have made the pandemic an existential threat in the neighborhoods she serves.

One issue is the high price of medical care, especially for immigrants who don’t have access to insurance.

IMAGE: NICE 'relief brigade' members
Members of “relief brigades” organized by New Immigrant Community Empowerment in Queens, New York, with supplies that will be distributed to immigrant families.Diana Moreno / New Immigrant Community Empowerment

“Cost is at the front of their minds, like any other Americans,” Moreno said. “They delay, 100 percent, until they can no longer wait, until it’s an emergency.”

In addition, families with members who don’t have green cards fear using public benefit programs — even if other family members qualify — after the Trump administration expanded a public charge rule. It expands the criteria for denying applications for legal permanent residence based on past or potential use of government benefit programs.

That and fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement have kept families out of hospitals and medical centers, Moreno said.

“Our members are not going to get tested, because they’re afraid,” Moreno said. “We have no doubt that that’s led to higher rates of infection, especially among families and people living in close quarters, which we know our members do.”‘People are afraid to accept anything’

Outside Boston, Erika Perez sees the same trepidation among families.

“People are afraid to accept anything,” said Perez, 37, an interpreter and immigrant advocate who has been in the North Shore of Massachusetts since 2002; she’s originally from Guatemala. “They think it’s going to come back to them.”

In March, Perez began helping indigenous Central American immigrant families with their rent payments, writing letters to landlords and serving as an advocate for them. Now, she has organized a group to bring food and supplies to families and tries to persuade worried families to seek medical help.

The initiative, Mayans without Borders, didn’t exist before COVID-19. Now, it’s working overtime to support 200 indigenous families in the North Shore. Perez, who initially recruited her family members, has raised over $17,000 for the initiative on the website GoFundMe.

“This is just the beginning,” said Perez, who had been putting up her own money to fund relief efforts. “I want it to be more sustainable.”

The project has taken over her mother-in-law’s barn, from which she coordinates her outreach.

In April, Perez was put in touch with Vivian Lopez, 27, a Mayan from Guatemala who lives in Lynn, Massachusetts. Lynn is the third-hardest-hit city in the state, with more than 3,400 confirmed cases in a population of 95,000. The town is also over 40 percent Hispanic.

Lopez was suffering from aches and a fever, but she went to Perez worried about her 6-year-old son, Angel. He was also showing COVID-19 symptoms.

The first thing Perez asked Lopez was to contact Angel’s pediatrician.

“I begged her,” Perez said. “I said: ‘Please, it’s for your own good and for your son. Do it for your son.'” But Lopez was too fearful and just wanted to know whether Perez could help her.

Through Perez, who translated, Lopez said she was shocked by the disproportionate number of deaths among Latinos.

“My worst fear was to go into the hospital and not come out of it alive,” Lopez said. “My personal opinion is that perhaps [we’re] not being provided the proper medical attention. How was it that a lot of Hispanics were dying so quickly in such a short period of time?”

Perez said her own cousins didn’t want to seek medical help, saying they had experienced discrimination at an urgent care center in the past. Like other families, they’re opting to stay home, relying on at-home, traditional remedies.

Some in the community won’t even seek out Perez’s help, suspecting that her food deliveries might get them tagged under the public charge rule.

Scared of seeking help

Dr. Daniel Correa, a neurologist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, is part of a network of doctors who have begun to publicly call for repeal of the expanded public charge rule. Latinos have the highest rates of COVID-19 deaths in the city, a trend documented in racial breakdowns by the city health department. A fear of seeking treatment, Correa said, is one of the reasons.

“Public charge was just the latest thing,” Correa said, referring to families with immigrant members. “There was already a lot of apprehension in the community before the pandemic. We were seeing concerns regarding public services, and in health care we were already seeing a decrease in public visits.”

he U.S. Department of Homeland Security has said emergency medical assistance, such as seeking care for COVID-19, doesn’t qualify under the umbrella of public charge. But Correa said there’s little trust in the federal government among families.

“They’ve detained people on the way to health care. We’ve seen this,” Correa said.

In terms of staying healthy, Correa said, orders to stay at home and isolate oneself are tougher for immigrant families who may be living in small spaces with multiple family members.

For some doctors, the coronavirus pandemic has brought a sense of déjà vu. Dr. Ilan Shapiro, a Los Angeles-based pediatrician, said he saw the same fear of seeking medical assistance among immigrant families in 2009, during the outbreak of H1N1.

“People are just waiting, and when they access the system, it’s too late,” Shapiro said. “That’s the U.S. — it’s not a different country.”

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Black Americans homeschool for different reasons than whites

By Mahala Dyer Stewart Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology, Hamilton College. | June 1, 2020 8.31am EDT

When Michelle, a white stay-at-home mom, decided to homeschool her 8-year-old daughter, Emily, the decision was driven by what she saw as the lack of individualized attention at school.

“We wound up feeling frustrated that the school wasn’t following the child,” Michelle, a former communications specialist, explained of the decision by she and her husband, a software engineer, to homeschool their daughter.

She described her daughter as “exceptionally gifted” and said after repeated attempts to get her daughter’s school to provide advanced coursework, “it just felt like so much energy that I might as well do this thing myself.”

Michelle’s decision to homeschool stands in stark contrast to that of Lynette, a black mother who told me her son, Trevor, was 7 when he started having a hard time in school.

“I don’t want to say that it was bullying but that’s what it kind of ended up being and it wasn’t from students,” Lynette explained. “It was from teachers.”

“He’s 7 but he looks like he’s 10,” Lynette continued. “And they kind of acted like they were afraid of him. He’s never acted out violently but they made it sound like he was going to.”

Like Michelle, Lynette grew tired of making visits to her child’s school, but for a different reason.

“I just didn’t want to have to keep going to the principal’s office,” Lynette recalled during an interview at a cafe in the suburbs of a Northeastern city. “I’m like ‘you’re really targeting my kid for no reason because he’s the second biggest kid in the school.’”

Motives differ

The sharp contrast between Michelle and Lynette’s reason for homeschooling their children is common.

As a sociologist who has interviewed dozens of homeschooling parents, I’ve found that whereas most white parents homeschool to make sure their children get an education more tailored to their needs and talents, most black parents homeschool to remove their children from what they see as a racially hostile environment.

Now that schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, families of all racial, ethnic and class backgrounds have been forced to spend more time educating their children at home, or at least making sure their children do whatever work the school has assigned.

It is unclear as to whether schools will reopen in the fall. It is also unclear how homeschooling – or at least the ability to oversee at-home learning – will be impacted by the pandemic. Based on existing research and data, I don’t see why reasons that parents previously decided to homeschool – whether they are black or white – will change or disappear. However, concerns about sending their children back to school amid the pandemic could become an additional reason.

Black students disciplined more

There is no shortage of research to support the view that America’s public schools treat black students more harshly than their white peers.

For example, a study by sociologists Edward Morris and Brea Perry found black boys are twice as likely as white boys to receive disciplinary action such as office referral, detention, suspension or expulsion. The same study found black girls are three times as likely as white girls to be disciplined for less serious and arguably more ambiguous behavior, such as disruptive behavior, dress code violations or disobedience.

The middle-class black mothers I interviewed say that despite their college education, salaries and advocacy on behalf of their children, they were unable to protect their children from the racial hostilities at school. The black families I spoke with told me they chose to homeschool only after they tried in vain to address discriminatory discipline practices at their children’s schools.

Money matters

Though the reasons why families chose to homeschool varies by race, I and other researchers have found that homeschooling is more common among two-parent households where one parent is the breadwinner and the other – most often the mother – educates the children. Homeschooling parents are also most often college-educated. One 2013 study found that among the 54 black homeschooling families interviewed, 42 of the families had one parent with at least a college degree, while many (19) also had graduate degrees.

If the ability to work from home makes it possible to homeschool, although incredibly challenging, data also suggest that homeschooling is more likely among families with higher incomes. That’s because the ability to work from home is largely tied to income. Federal labor data show that in 2017 and 2018, 61.5% of workers in the top income quartile could work from home. For workers in the second highest quartile, 37.3% could work from home. But for those in third and fourth highest income quartiles, only 20.1% and 9.1%, respectively, could work from home.

If reducing the risk of exposing their children to COVID-19 becomes a reason to homeschool this fall, these data would suggest that more well-to-do families are in a better position to see that their children are educated at home. By contrast, low-wage workers are less likely to easily exercise this choice. Some scholars speculate that this will lead to more well-off families deciding to continue their children’s learning at-home as a way to avoid virus exposure.

Future growth?

The percentage of U.S. children who are homeschooled rather than attending public and private schools was rising before the pandemicBetween 1999 and 2016, the percentage of the school age population who were homeschooled doubled from 1.7% to 3.3%, or close to 1.7 million students.

Black homeschoolers account for roughly 8% of this population, up from an estimated 4% in 2007. The 8% in 2016 represents 132,000 black homeschooling kids, according to the NCES data.

In 2017, black kids made up 15% of public school students, or 7.7 million kids of the roughly 50.7 million public school kids that year.

2019 federal report shows parents homeschool for a variety of reasons. Just 16% of homeschool families report moral or religious instruction as the primary reason for homeschooling, while 34% report their primary reason is concern with school environment. This report does not document how reasons vary by race. Yet my study would suggest that black parents, like Lynette, may be dissatisfied with school environment in very different ways than white parents, like Michelle.

George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. What do we tell our children?

Alia E. Dastagir USA TODAY | Published 8:45 a.m. ET May 31, 2020

Should we tell the children? How?

Those are among the many questions parents are asking after the recent deaths of George FloydAhmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Many white parents wonder whether to talk with their kids at all, while parents of color swallow their  grief and fear to have “the talk” once again.

These deaths are part of a more complex story, one some parents have been telling for generations, and others have long felt they’ve had the luxury to ignore. But experts in child psychology and race-based stress say these conversations are essential for all parents to have, and they underscore that there are developmentally appropriate ways to talk to children of all ages about racism and police brutality.

“Silence will not protect you or them,” said Beverly Daniel Tatum, a psychologist and author of, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race. “Avoiding the topic is not a solution.”

Racism persists, experts say, because many parents avoid difficult conversations.

A child holds an American Flag as protestors march through the streets on May 29, 2020, in St Louis, Missouri.

“One of the most important things to remember is that you may not have all the answers and that is OK,” said Erlanger Turner, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at Pepperdine University who studies mental health among racial communities. 

USA TODAY spoke with Tatum and Turner about how to talk with children about racial violence:

Why is it important to talk with children about what happened to George Floyd and other incidents of police brutality or racism in the news?

Beverly Daniel Tatum: Even young children may see or hear about highly publicized incidents like the George Floyd case – perhaps overhearing the TV or the radio –  and may ask questions. Or if parents are upset by the news, the child may perceive the parent’s distress and ask why mom or dad is upset. In either case, an age-appropriate explanation is better than silence. Older children with Internet access may see online images on their own. Initiating an age-appropriate conversation can give children a helpful frame for understanding difficult realities. If parents are silent, children will draw their own often faulty conclusions about what is happening and why.

Erlanger Turner: Many adults are hurt and angered by these events and their children may notice changes in their mood. It is helpful to have a healthy conversation around what happened and also talk about ways to cope when you witness social injustice. 

Does COVID-19 warrant avoiding these conversations, given many children are already struggling with fear, anxiety and uncertainty? 

BDT: No. Not talking about upsetting events only fuels fear, anxiety and uncertainty.  Being able to talk about something with a supportive adult can reduce fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Parents may avoid the conversation because they don’t know what to say, but it is a mistake to think that their silence is helpful.Get the Coronavirus Watch newsletter in your inbox.

ET: I don’t think that anxiety and fear about COVID-19 should stop a parent from talking about police brutality. This issue has been increasing in concern over the last few years as the number of black and brown people killed by police continue to rise. I think if you do talk with your child don’t leave them in a high state of worry. Make sure to end the conversation by engaging in a pleasant activity after the difficult discussion so they won’t stay worried or afraid. 

How do parents start these conversations and how does that change depending on the age of their children?

ET: I think the first place to start a conversation around racism and police brutality is with honesty. Take ownership of your feelings and be comfortable sharing those feelings with your child. Then you can begin to allow them to share what they may already know about racial differences. I think that it is always good to allow children to share their opinion and understanding before you offer information.

For younger children conversations about racism should be limited to basic facts about how people are treated differently due to the color of their skin but also acknowledge that not everyone treats people differently based on race. For older teens, parents can consider exposure to news or social media posts as discussion points about this issue. 

BDT: Regardless of the age of the child, it is important to balance acknowledging the reality of racism, or unfairness, with messages about the possibility of change, and the community of allies who are working together to make things better.

If a child of color asks if a police officer is going to kill them, what do you say?

BDT: The answer will depend on the age of the child.  If it is a young child, a parent can be reassuring.  “No, honey, you don’t have to worry about that. Police officers don’t want to hurt you.”

In response to an older child, it can be reassuring to say something like: “I know that it is scary to think that something like that might happen, and I really don’t want you to worry about anything like that. I know that most police officers want to help people, and most police officers never fire their guns. But sometimes they do get nervous and make mistakes. So it is important for you to know what to do if a police officer ever stops you…”

Black parents often refer to this as “the talk” they have to have with their adolescent sons to increase the odds they will survive an encounter with a police officer if and when they are stopped.

ET: That is a tough question. Depending on the age of the child, they may have some awareness of youth that have been killed by police. Obviously you don’t want to respond in a way that is going to make children be more fearful for their safety. In my opinion, I think that you should let children know that most police officers work to protect them and their community. 

people in blue shirts and white hat standing on street during daytime

If a child says they are afraid or angry, what do you say?

BDT: Acknowledge the child’s feelings. The parent may have similar feelings. “I know it’s upsetting to hear about and see these things happening. It upsets me too when bad things like this happen. Racism is very unfair. But it makes me feel better to know there are lots of people who want to change things.” Being able to offer specific examples of community change agents would be useful. Being able to talk about what family members are doing to speak up against unfairness is especially useful. Actions always speak louder than words.

ET: If a child tells you that they are angry, that is appropriate. Don’t force them to hide their emotional expression. However, be sure to help them identify ways to express their anger in a healthy manner which may include journaling or exercising to release the energy from their body. 

If a child is afraid for one of their friends, what do you say?

BDT: “I can see that you are worried about your friend. What do you think we could do that might help him or her?” Depending on the situation, this could be an opportunity to talk about what it means to be an ally, and how to stand in solidarity with another person.

ET: If a child is afraid for one of their friends, talk with them about those emotions. Allow the child to express why they may be afraid and help them identify how they can check on their friend’s safety to ease their anxiety or fear. Part of what increases anxiety is the fear of the unknown. If you have a plan of action it will reduce some of those fears. 

How can parents talk about law enforcement in a way that is honest but also doesn’t discourage children from seeking help from law enforcement when appropriate?

BDT: Most police officers become police officers because they want to help people. And there are times when we would really want a police officer to help us – give some examples – if there’s been a car accident, or if someone took something that belonged to us, etc. But sometimes a police officer does something bad, like today. When that happens, we might start to think that all police officers are like that.  But it’s important to remember that that is not true.

ET: I think that it is very important to talk with the children about law enforcement. For example, you can talk with them about how they protect rules in society such as making sure that people don’t drive too fast so they won’t harm themselves or others. Providing clear examples about the ways that law enforcement helps society will allow the child to better understand. You can also be honest about situations such as police brutality and let children know that some police officers break laws. If you have a trusted officer in your community it may be good to also allow the child to talk with them in person to reduce their fear.  

Should these conversations be different depending on the race of the child?

BDT: Children of color are likely to experience racist encounters as they get older.  They need to be helped to understand their own worth and feel affirmed in their identity as young people of color despite the negative messages they may get from others.  Parents of color want to raise self-confident and empowered children who are not demoralized by other people’s racism. This requires lots of conversation about racism and how to resist it in an ongoing way throughout their children’s lives.

White children are often racially isolated as a consequence of segregated schools and neighborhoods, and consequently limited in their understanding of people different from themselves.  White parents who want to interrupt the cycle of racism must learn to talk to their children about it and model their own anti-racist activity.

ET: According to research, white parents often don’t talk with their children about race or may emphasize “not seeing color.” The concept of colorblindness or “not seeing color” is more harmful than helpful and does not honor an individual’s identity. … For white families, research suggests … conversations should focus on raising anti-racist children and encouraging more friendships with children from others races.

Many of these deaths garner attention because footage of it goes viral. What should we say if our child asks to see it? 

BDT: There are many adults who don’t want to see such footage. I would not show it to a child at all. Once an image is in your head, it is very difficult to get it out. That said, it is reasonable to describe what happened and talk about why it was wrong. It is also likely that children with Internet access can view the footage without an adult’s permission or assistance. Talking about it after the fact will help children process their feelings.

ET: You should not show your children these videos as it may increase the likelihood of them experiencing symptoms of trauma or having nightmares. What we know from research on witnessing disasters is that individuals may be at a higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder even through indirect exposure to these events. 

What do we say if, in the course of this conversation, a child says something racist?

BDT: Inquire about it with curiosity, not judgment. “I’m wondering why you said that…”  After hearing more about what the child is thinking, you can offer correction by providing new information. “You know, a lot of people might think that is true, but I don’t because….” 

ET: I think the first thing to do is to not get defensive. You want to foster open communication with your child. However, I think you should explore why they have that opinion, where did they learn it from, and tell them why what they said was wrong. It might be helpful for you as a parent to think about ways that you may have unconsciously expressed racist attitudes. 

How can parents explain the uprisings in a way that doesn’t condone violence but also doesn’t minimize the sense of injustice fueling them?

BDT: Children understand the concept of unfairness as well as the experience of frustration. Years and years of unfairness – racism – results in intense anger and frustration. The conversation can then be about what we must do to fix the continuing unfairness.

ET: I think it is important for parents to be honest. Share your hurt, anger, or disappointment with your child. You should also talk about different ways to protest social injustice such as calling your local politicians office or even visit their office to talk with them about policy change to reduce injustice. 

Resources for parents

Parent Sues Rutgers, Demanding Tuition Refund Due To Coronavirus

Online classes and Zoom sessions are not what the parents purchased when they paid their daughter’s spring 2020 tuition, the suit argues.

By Carly Baldwin, Patch Staff 
May 21, 2020 4:14 pm ET | Updated May 22, 2020 8:58 am ET
Rutgers received an estimated $54.16 million from the federal government through the CARES Act.
Rutgers received an estimated $54.16 million from the federal government through the CARES Act. (Shutterstock)

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — An anonymous parent of a Rutgers University student filed a class-action lawsuit against the school this week, seeking a partial tuition refund in light of the school’s campus closure due to COVID-19.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in superior court in Middlesex County. This week, a student filed a similar lawsuit against Kean University, saying online classes were not what she paid for.

When the pandemic first began, Rutgers gave students pro-rated refunds for housing, dining and parking charges beginning on March 23 and lasting through May 16, said Rutgers spokeswoman Dory Devlin. (May 16 is the required move-out date at the university.)

However, what this parent is seeking is not a refund for campus meals and housing: They would like a tuition refund, arguing that — because all her classes were virtual instead of in-person — their daughter received a radically different learning experience than what they paid for.

“While plaintiff’s daughter could have obtained her degree online, their daughter specifically selected an in-person, in-class experience,” the lawsuit argues.

“The shift to online instruction affected the depth,” read the suit. “Often links sent by professors were not compatible with her computer and she missed opportunities to view videos and listen to audio lectures that were necessary for her learning. Instead, she was only able to review the bullet-point lecture slides and missed a lot of necessary information from the lectures.”

The suit was filed by law firm Hagens Berman, which has also brought similar lawsuits against Boston University, Brown, Duke, Emory, George Washington University, USC, Vanderbilt and Washington University in St. Louis.

“What Rutgers is offering is not what students or parents paid for,” Berman said.

Specific course fees, where appropriate, were refunded on a course-by-course basis, said Rutgers spokeswoman Devlin.

But no university in America, including Rutgers, has given refunds based on the differences between in-class and online learning due to the coronavirus shutdown.

The plaintiff is listed as by John Doe. U.S. law allows civil suits to be filed anonymously or under a pseudonym in certain cases to “protect a person (in this case the Rutgers student) from harassment, injury, ridicule or personal embarrassment.”

The lawsuit is class-action, meaning that anyone can join the suit.

“We understand that universities have been put under unforeseen circumstances and had to act quickly in the face of the pandemic,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman. “But we also believe that is no excuse to ignore the rights of students paying for access to campus amenities, in-person education and all the other benefits commonly afforded to them in a typical semester.”

According to the lawsuit, Rutgers had a record-breaking fundraising year with more than 48,500 donors contributing $250.9 million. Recently, Rutgers received an estimated $54.16 million from the federal government as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Poll: Minority and low-income parents most worried about their students’ success

Lorraine Longhi, Arizona RepublicPublished 7:33 p.m. MT May 20, 2020 | Updated 7:51 a.m. MT May 21, 2020

About four in 10 Arizona parents believe the state’s management of K-12 education was good or excellent amid the coronavirus health pandemic, according to a new ASU Morrison Institute-Arizona Republic poll.

K-12 school administration received the highest positive rating of any other government entity listed, including federal, state, local and tribal.

The online survey was conducted in late April and early May. Gov. Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman ordered schools closed on March 15 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

District, charter and private schools quickly converted to remote learning. Some provided students with printouts, while others moved to virtual lessons and emailed work. 

Impact on low-income students

The poll highlights a divide between lower-income and higher-income families when it comes to accessing the necessary technology for online learning.

Parents with children from low-income families polled were less likely to say that their children have the necessary technology for online learning.

Low-income families were also less likely to say that their children are actively engaged in online learning.

In contrast, parents of children from higher-income brackets were more concerned that their child will fall behind in school and that COVID-19 will compromise the likelihood their child will graduate high school.

Richie Taylor, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Education, said that the findings came as no surprise. He said low-income families and the schools that serve them are at more of a disadvantage when it comes to accessing technology and resources that make it easier to pivot to online learning.

“That’s why it’s so critical to provide support and resources to fill those gaps we know exist,” he said.

During the past two months, some schools got creative to help their students. A Tucson district parked buses with WiFi around the city so students could access assignments. Others reached out to nonprofits to help purchase additional laptops for students. 

State leaders asked businesses to donate hotspots and laptops to help students.

As schools tentatively prepare to reopen in the fall, Taylor said they will depend heavily on money from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to fill in some of the educational gaps.

The CARES Act will allocate approximately $13.2 billion in emergency relief funds to state governments to support K-12 students whose educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus. 

“CARES Act funding ishugely important to mitigate some of the challenge we faced,” Taylor said. “We want to be able to provide for the needs of families and students.”Get the Law & Order newsletter in your inbox.

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Different ages, neighborhoods, ethnicity

The online Morrison-Republic poll was conducted from April 24 through May 7. It included 813 Arizona residents census balanced by age, gender, ethnicity, and location.

Of those, 287 were parents with at least one child living at home. The margin of error was plus or minus 6 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.

At the time of the survey, 16% of respondents indicated they would feel comfortable sending their kids back to school immediately following the lifting of restrictions.

Among the general population of parents polled:

  • 75% said their children had the necessary technology to engage in online learning.
  • 67% said their children were actively engaged in learning.
  • 57% were satisfied with the educational opportunities being offered.
  • 53% were worried that children would fall behind.
  • 43% were concerned that COVID-19 would impact their child’s ability to graduate.

Parents of older students expressed less confidence that their children were staying engaged in online learning than those of younger students.

Of the parents with at least one child in elementary school, 69% said they agreed that their children were engaged, compared to 55% of parents polled with a child in high school.

The opposite was true when parents were asked whether they were worried their child might fall behind in school.

Among parents with children in elementary school, 58%worried that their child would fall behind, compared to 46% of parents polled with a child in high school.

Black parents polled were more concerned about their children falling behind than white or Hispanic parents. Of those polled, 67% of black parents said they were worried, compared to 44% of white parents and 63% of Hispanic parents. 

Hispanic parents were the most concerned about whether COVID-19 would decrease their child’s likelihood of graduating high school. Of those polled, 49% of Hispanic parents said they were concerned, compared to 38% of black parents and 28% of white parents.

Parents who did not have a high school degree reported less concern about students falling behind as a result of the stay-at-home order when compared to parents with some college or a higher degree.

A parent’s neighborhood also impacted how individuals polled responded.

While 61% of parents who lived in an urban neighborhood indicated they were satisfied with the educational opportunities being offered by their school, only 47% of parents in suburban neighborhoods were satisfied.

Can kids attend camp this summer? What newly released guidelines say

five children playing water during day time

Detailed guidelines issued by the American Camp Association and the YMCA recommend extensive cleaning protocols and safety measures to protect kids during the pandemic.

May 18, 2020, 8:15 AM CDT / Source: TODAYBy Scott Stump

Summer camp is going to look a lot different this year as parents weigh whether to send their children during the coronavirus pandemic.

Thousands of camps are making numerous changes emphasizing health and safety, which could mean wearing masks when appropriate and daily cleaning of sports gear and aquatic equipment.

Tom Rosenberg, the president and CEO of the American Camp Association, and Paul McEntire, the COO of YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), spoke to Savannah Guthrie exclusively on TODAY about the joint release of detailed guidelines by their organizations on Monday outlining best policies that camps can use to keep children safe during the pandemic.

The thought of a group of 6- or 7-year-olds excitedly gathering at camp and practicing social distancing or rigid hygiene may not be easy to envision, but the guide provides a host of details about everything from pool safety to cleaning life jackets to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Parents can definitely expect to see safety as the first and foremost focus at camp this summer,” Rosenberg said. “For camp directors, the health and safety of our campers is paramount.”

About 20 million children, adolescents and adults enjoy roughly 14,000 camps across the country every year between day camps and overnight camps. The YMCA runs about 10,000 day camps on its own, as well as 325 overnight camps.

A majority of the YMCA day camps are planning to open this summer as long as they are in compliance with state and local guidance, while some overnight camps have decided not to open this summer, according to McEntire.

Some camps may have shortened sessions and others may be conducting the camp virtually, according to Rosenberg.

“There are going to be lots of different choices, but not necessarily looking typical this summer,” Rosenberg said.

A host of changes are recommended by the guide, including regular sanitizing, hand-washing, social distancing, staggered meals, smaller group activities and staggered arrivals and pick-ups.

The guide put together by a panel of experts is basically a detailed expansion on the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding summer camps during the pandemic.

The recommendations also include routine cleaning of all outdoor equipment after each use and providing campers with their own equipment like tennis rackets or bows and arrows for the duration of camp if possible.

When it comes to pool safety, the guidelines state that there is no current evidence that coronavirus can be spread in a pool or water play area, so properly disinfecting with chlorine or bromine “will likely inactivate the virus in the water.”

people playing water during daytime

Other guidelines include physical distancing while swimming, keeping activities confined to the same group of campers and same instructors and regularly cleaning and disinfecting shared equipment like oars and life jackets.

Some camps may also plan to screen campers ahead of time with two weeks of temperature checks while also determining if they have been in contact with someone who tested positive. Campers also could be screened if they have traveled to a hotspot like New York City, which has been the center of a rare and potentially deadly condition linked to COVID-19 in children.

Whether campers are given COVID-19 tests is up to the local and state governments and the resources available, according to the experts. Overnight camps are urged to have places to isolate any campers who could have been exposed to COVID-19, while day camps are recommended to have parents come pick the child up immediately.

There also are many parents who may not have much of a choice when it comes to sending their child to camp this summer.

“A lot of parents have choices whether to send their child to camp or not, but many others don’t,” McEntire said. “They utilize overnight camp and even more day camp as child care because they have to go to work, and so we feel responsibility to design that so that they can be as safe as possible, so children when they’re with us have fun, be outdoors and allow that parent to go to work.

Parent depression linked to reduced empathy, putting kids at risk for adverse outcomes

by Joan Brasher May. 18, 2020, 12:16 PM

Parents with greater depression symptoms report experiencing less empathy—even toward their own children, according to a new Vanderbilt report published in PLOS ONE. This phenomenon could lead to significant long-term negative impacts for these children, the researchers say.

“Feeling understood and accepted is important for everyone, but especially in the context of the parent–child relationship,” said senior author Kathryn L. Humphreys, assistant professor of psychology at Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development. “Research studies find that when children don’t receive empathic responses from caregivers, they tend to have a wide variety of negative outcomes, including elevated physiological responses to stress, increased risk for psychiatric disorders, especially depression, and decreased empathy toward others.”

The findings may be particularly pertinent during the current COVID-19 outbreak, a time when depression and anxiety are on the rise as parents struggle to balance health and financial concerns with isolation, working from home and caring for (and educating) their young children.

“Our findings may help to explain why parents with depression are more likely to engage in negative parenting behaviors, such as withdrawal or hostility, and reduced positive parenting behaviors, like sensitivity, engagement and warmth,” said lead author Virginia Salo, a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt. “Depression doesn’t just affect the person who is experiencing it.”

Kathryn L. Humphreys (Vanderbilt)
Kathryn L. Humphreys (Vanderbilt

“A parent’s difficulty identifying and connecting with a child’s emotions is particularly concerning during these turbulent times.”
–Kathryn L. Humphreys

Humphreys says that parents experiencing depression are more likely to struggle with fatigue and irritability, making even routine family-centric activities like reading together, preparing meals and playing games, more difficult. These activities are important because they can build emotional connection, boost learning and enhance language skills.

“A parent’s difficulty identifying and connecting with a child’s emotions is particularly concerning during these turbulent times when children’s worlds are being disrupted and parents are the primary source for providing a sense of safety,” Humphreys said.

Across the world population, more than 300 million people are estimated to experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime. Among adults in the United States alone the lifetime prevalence of major depressive disorder is approximately 21 percent.

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A Working Parent’s Guide To Paid Family Leave In The Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Kelly Anne Smith | Forbes Staff | Advisor Contributor Group Personal Finance

Middle Aged Women working from home in office whilst also looking after her young daugther.
If you’re struggling to balance child care and working from home, you might be eligible for paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. GETTY

The coronavirus pandemic is reshaping what’s been known as normal life.

As families start to grapple with a new reality, that may mean having to spend more time at home with children as summer camps, daycares and schools could remain closed for the foreseeable future. Without child care, working parents are left to figure out how they might balance work and taking care of their children at the same time.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was created to expand paid leave options for employees effective from April 2 through December 31, 2020. The temporary rule provides a range of assistance measures, but most importantly, it provides a safety net to working parents who are unable to find child care due to COVID-19-related reasons. The FFCRA offers employees up to 12 weeks of partial paid leave to tend to their children. Businesses whose employees take this leave pay for it through a refundable tax credit administered by the Department of Treasury. 

Here’s what you need to know.

Details on Expanded Paid Family Leave in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Paid family leave could be crucial for parents who are struggling to figure out how to balance work and childcare, especially if their summer camp or childcare plans fall through due to COVID-19 restrictions. Today In: Personal Finance

If you find yourself in that situation, you might be entitled to paid family leave. The FFCRA, signed into law on March 18, significantly expands the amount of family and medical leave certain employers are required to offer during the COVID-19 crisis. The provisions are in effect through the end of this year and apply to private businesses with fewer than 500 employees (however, businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt from offering the paid leave under certain conditions) and certain public employers.

Parents can receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave by combining relief available in two separate pieces of legislation, which are both part of the FFCRA: the Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act (EMFLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA). These two regulations work together to provide paid leave for individuals dealing with school or child care unavailability due to COVID-19 related reasons.

Here’s how it works:

  • Workers can receive two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave under EPSLA at two-thirds of their regular rate of pay when they are unable to work because they are caring for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19.
  • Workers can receive 12 weeks of family and medical leave under EMFLEA because their child’s school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19. The first two weeks of this period will be unpaidbut you can use the two weeks of paid sick leave listed above, or elect to use accrued vacation or sick days from your employer, to cover that two-week gap. The remaining 10 weeks of leave under the EMFLEA will be paid at at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay.

In total, combining the various provisions made available in the FFCRA allow working parents (who qualify) to take a total of three months of leave at partial pay.

Important Rules About the Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act

Expanded paid leave as offered under the EFMLEA portion of the FFCRA is helpful to many. But there are caveats that workers should be aware of before they jump on the opportunity to use it. Keep these rules in mind:

  • Your employer has to have work for you in order for you to be eligible for the leave. You are only eligible for the leave if caring for your son or daughter actually takes you away from completing your work. If your employer is closed, or you’re furloughed, you cannot take 12 weeks of expanded paid sick and family leave under the FFCRA. Instead, you would be eligible for unemployment.
  • You have to be employed for at least 30 calendar days to qualify for the additional 10 weeks of paid family leave. If you were let go during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, and are now back on payroll, you’ll have to be employed for at least a month before you’re eligible for the expanded paid family leave. However, all employees are eligible for the initial two weeks of expanded paid sick leave, regardless of how long they’ve been employed.  
  • If you can only work a few days a week because you need to care for your children certain days, you can take intermittent leave. For example, if you’re working from home and need to be offline Wednesday and Friday each week to care for your children, that time away from work is eligible for paid family leave. This only applies if the employer and employee agree to the arrangement, so be sure to speak with your employer before settling on this option.
  • Your two-thirds rate of pay will be capped at $200 per day and $12,000 total over the 12-week period. If you’re a high earner, this could significantly cut down how much you can earn over the 12-week period. Be sure to first exhaust any accrued paid sick leave or vacation days, if possible, so you can still receive full pay. 
  • If you work part-time, your pay will be calculated based on the average number of hours you work over a two-week period. But if your work schedule is irregular, and you’ve been employed for at least six months, your pay will be equal to 14 times the average number of hours you were scheduled to work each calendar day over the six-month period.
  • If your employer has less than 50 employees, it can opt out of giving you paid family leave. If giving paid leave to employees due to school or child care closings would “jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern,” according to the law, then these smaller businesses are not required to give employees paid leave through the FFCRA.
  • If you’ve already taken time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in the current 12-month year, the time you can take off under the EFMLEA will be reduced by that amount. For example, if you took five weeks of FMLA in January, and now need to take EFMLEA, you can only take seven of the total 12 weeks of leave.
  • You need to notify your employer about taking leave. When taking paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave to care for your child, you’ll have to provide documentation to your employer stating that’s the reason. Your documentation should include the name of the child you’re caring for, the school or childcare provider that has closed or is unavailable because of COVID-19, and a statement explaining that no one else is available to care for your child during your requested period of leave.  

What If You’re Not Eligible for Paid Leave Provided by the FFCRA?

If you have been furloughed and aren’t eligible for paid family leave provided by the FFCRA, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has expanded unemployment benefits to cover individuals in this situation.

Pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) extends unemployment benefits to individuals who don’t typically qualify for state unemployment. PUA covers workers who are unemployed, partially unemployed or are unable to work for COVID-19-related reasons starting on or after January 27 (payments are retroactive to that date, meaning if you met the criteria on that date but didn’t file until later, you’ll still be paid for the days in between). According to U.S. Department of Labor guidelines, individuals who are still employed but cannot work because of a school closure or summer care closure due to COVID-19 may also qualify for PUA. 

Individuals who qualify for PUA can receive up to 39 weeks of benefits; the amount you receive will depend on how your state calculates unemployment benefits, but will likely be based on your past income. Individuals who receive PUA are also eligible for an additional $600 per week in benefits under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUB) program, which is part of the CARES Act. As of now, the additional $600 per week is available through the end of July.

Unemployment insurance is a joint effort between the federal government and states. Individuals interested in receiving PUA will need to apply through their state’s unemployment insurance website. 

Bottom Line

While FFCRA gives workers expanded paid leave options, there are important stipulations to keep in mind when considering them. Contact your employer directly for more information about expanded paid family leave under the FFCRA and to discuss if it’s the right option for you.

We would love to hear from you, have a story, tip or recipe you would like to share with our readers? Feel free to email it to throughlovewelearn@gmail.com.

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