Tips on Creating a Safe Pandemic Pod for Learning and Socializing

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Are you considering creating a pandemic pod? Get tips on how to expand your circle while also staying safe.

Watch: Coronavirus: Best Face Shields to Protect Yourself

Many households are expanding the number of people they are interacting with, especially households with kids who want their little ones to socialize more and to have other classmates. Real Simple offers up great tips on how to keep these expanded circles as safe as possible.

- Safety is still key. When interacting with people in your pod it is recommended all prevention methods still take place, including wearing a mask, washing hands regularly, and social distancing when possible.

- Be mindful of how many people are in the pod. “Safety is entirely dependent on the members of the group and the risks they are taking outside of the pod, all under the umbrella of the infection rates within your community. The larger the group, the greater the risk,” pediatrician Dr. Natasha Burgert tells Real Simple. “For most of my families that are creating a bubble, they are limiting the arrangement to about 10 people or one to two other families.”

- Include other like-minded households in your pod. Your pod should include households who follow the same pandemic rules, for instance, if you are your family are not eating out at restaurants, the families in your pod should be following similar rules.

- Set the pod rules and standards that each household will need to follow. Will masks be required while interacting? Is everyone going to test for COVID-19? Are there temperature checks taken? What happens when someone steps outside of the established pod rules? Real Simple urges pods to have guidelines in place ahead of time to make it as safe as possible.

- Trust is vital for a pod's success. “Pods will only succeed if there is a continuous level of honest communication about activities that pod members are doing, as well as willingness to quickly redirect should a member become exposed or ill,” Dr. Burgert explains. “Anticipate disagreements and conflict, especially during these times of increased stress and confusion.”

More: Is Boosting Your Immunity Against COVID-19 Even Possible?

If you are looking to create an educational pod for your child, consider these tips to ensure it's a success:

- First, decide how much time your child will need to interact with others. Are a few hours per day enough or does your child need more time with others? Consider speaking with your employer about how they can work with your new scheduling needs. 

- Next, figure out what type of needs the pod will meet for your child and their schooling. Licensed clinical social worker Craig Knippenberg says, “This past spring, some of my patients were doing great -- they woke up to check in with the teacher, then diligently set out to complete their homework and didn’t hesitate to reach out to their teacher for help. Others frequently missed the morning check-ins, were constantly tempted to horse around, check YouTube, play electronic games, or engage in social media and routinely failed to complete their assignments. These children needed the extra support that simply cannot be achieved with online learning. You also need to consider if your child has any specific learning disabilities, ADHD, or other physical or mental health challenges that would make online learning difficult.”

- Then, pair up your child with other kids who are similar in age, this will help with the topics and lesson covered during the pod.

- Next, determine who is leading the educational pod. Is it a teaching student? A former teacher? Are parents taking turns helping the kids with their school work? There are many options, but all parents should agree on who will be the best fit for the group.

Lastly, try not to stress too much about the lack of socialization for your kids. According to Dr. Burgert, "Kids need parents more than they need friends." She goes on to say, “Social awareness and emotional intelligence are taught primarily at home, even when kids are socializing. Parents are the best learning platform for kids in all sorts of ways. Being supportive, asking questions, and listening, checking in for a few minutes every day without distraction, prioritizing one tech-free meal per day—these are all ways to continue social education while at home. These are things parents do every day.”

For more information on how to put together your own pod, check out, which has great tips and can help parents find a vetted teacher. 

The Doctors have more resources and ideas and for you and your household during the coronavirus pandemic, including tips on how to stay safe while leaving the house, the best types of masks, and why getting a flu shot this year is so important.


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