Dad Puts Wife on Blast for Still Taking Kid to 'Safe' Playgroup -- Despite COVID-19 Lockdown

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When news of the coronavirus started to ramp up in the United States, it was determined that the majority of cases appeared to be among adults. But now, even newborns have been diagnosed with the fast-spreading infection, which means that now more than ever we need to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines and practice social distancing to slow the spread. 

A man writing into Slate's Care and Feeding advice column has been struggling to convince his wife of this. She insisted that it's A-OK to keep taking their three kids to a local educational playgroup on the grounds that their daughter needs to keep up with her reading lessons. But her husband is worried that she's taking too big of a risk.

  • The couple shares three kids younger than 10. 

    They have three kids: a 2-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a 6-year-old, he explained in his letter. And he's "annoyed" that his wife has been taking them out during the coronavirus pandemic.

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  • One of the other moms in their community started a "kindergarten playgroup" now that their kids are staying home from school.

    Held at the mother's house, all of the younger siblings play together in one room while the kindergarten-aged kids stay in a different room and learn from another mother who is a teacher.

  • He's not angry that his daughter is receiving lessons.

    In fact, he's pretty happy that she's "continuing to learn and from someone with experience teaching that age group."

    But their state is under a stay-at-home order. Although these orders vary state-by-state, CNN has reported broadly that it means residents must stay at home unless going out for essential services, such as groceries, the pharmacy, gas, etc.

    That means no going to playgroups.

    "I am worried the kids will unnecessarily catch the virus," he wrote.

  • His wife assured him that they were keeping the house sanitized and making their kids practice good hygiene.

    In addition, she told her husband that the risk for children to contract the virus is low.

    "She also states that our daughter, who is not a strong reader, needs continued education in a classroom setting to set her up for success in school," he wrote. "Who is right?"

  • In the comments, people had some strong feelings about the situation.


    "These moms sound very foolish," one person wrote.

    "I hate your wife," a second commenter wrote. "She is literally killing us."

    "Toddlers will sneeze right into your eyeballs," a third commenter added. "They're perfect little disease vectors. Does Letter Writer 1's wife not know about germs?"

  • Columnist Jamilah Lemieux agreed that his wife needs to reconsider the group.

    Lemieux reminded the Letter Writer that social distancing isn't just the recommendation: It's been mandated by the state where he and his family live.

    "While the folks in this group may be exercising great caution around hand-washing and avoiding physical contact (good luck with that with small children), it is unfathomable that they are [not] remaining the recommended six feet of distance between parties who do not live in the same household," she wrote. 

    Honestly, it might easier if they just hold classes virtually, she added.

  • Just because it seems like they have everything under control -- it doesn't mean that they do.

    Lemieux reminded the dad that many people are asymptomatic, which means they could have the virus with no outward symptoms, and added that although most children aren't considered high risk, that doesn't mean they are not at risk at all. 

    In fact, the CDC has reported that kids are at no higher risk for contracting COVID-19 than adults. In general, kids diagnosed with coronavirus tend to have the same symptoms that adults have, but in general, their symptoms tend to be more mild.

    "Reported symptoms in children include cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough," the CDC website stated, as well as other symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. The government organization even pointed out that it's not clear if children with pre-existing conditions may be more at risk for severe symptoms. 

    Although experts still have more to learn about how COVID-19 impacts kids, the general advice is still the same: Practice social distancing, limit social interactions, launder washable toys in the warmest water possible, and practice regular hand washing.

    "Remember, if children meet outside of school in bigger groups, it can put everyone at risk," the CDC website warned.

  • As Lemieux puts it in her response, "So, this isn’t little wrong. This is BIG wrong."

    "I hate to be That Guy, but please remind your wife that school success will be a moot point for her or any other adult or child who does not survive this pandemic to see the return of the traditional classroom," she continued. "The play group moms are wrong, wrong, WRONG. A friend who works in emergency medicine agrees with us. Tell your wife she’s been outvoted and shut this possible germ factory down."

health & safety