As we settle into life in a pandemic, many families are starting to pull the pieces together to form a new normal. One that balances safety, health, and mental wellbeing. That may be why families are turning to Pandemic Pods.

What Are Pandemic Pods?

When two or three families agree to socialize with one another but no one else. In a pod, families hang out together, often without regard to social distancing—but outside of the pod, they follow recommended face covering and social distancing rules.

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Why Parents Like Pods

Families with younger children know that socially distance play-dates options are not realistic. Young children have a difficult time adhering to 6-feet separation (let alone understanding what that means) and keeping masks properly in place. However, parents also understand that physical play is fundamental to development.

Medical professionals, including pediatrician Dr. Mary Barsanti-Sekhar, are concerned about the potential negative effects of isolation. “The virus is still out there and in general, the safest thing you can do is stay inside at all times. With that said, I am worried about the mental health, and physical health of children being isolated. This pandemic is causing a rise in anxiety and behavioral issues in children that were not present before.” However, Dr. Barsanti-Sekhar warns, “it needs to be a very cautious balance.”

Child Care + Pandemic Pods

Working families may be looking to include child care professionals in their pod. While having a pod can be nice for evening grill-outs and weekend playdates, they can also serve as a way for families to share the cost of filling in their child care gaps. When sitters are involved in pods, think of it like a nanny share, but during a pandemic. If you’re interviewing for a job with a pandemic pod of families, here are a few things to consider:

Your Local COVID-19 Status

First and foremost, child care professionals need to have a clear understanding of what’s happening in their city/state/zipcode as it pertains to coronavirus. “Are cases rising or falling in your area? Have things stabilized? If those answers are falling and yes, respectively, then forming “pods” is a reasonable thing to think about.” Dr. Barsanti-Sekhar says.

Solid Communication

Secondly, pods need to be formed with a strong foundation built on open communication, trust, and aligned approach to precaution. When evaluating if you’re ready to work for a couple of families in a pod, here are a few things ask yourself:

  • Do you share the same values in safety outside of the pod?
  • Are there any high-risk people connected to you or the families?
  • How many people are you comfortable having in your bubble?
  • What rules and processes would you need to be set in place?
  • Is there a time commitment required to make it worth your while?
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Pandemic Pod Sizes

Dr. Barsanti-Sekhar encourages everyone to follow the recommendation from experts. “Guidance on groups of 10 people is coming directly from the CDC. That is a good place to start in terms of evaluating how much you should expand your bubble. That said, 1-2 families can hit that number very quickly. Adults are going to be able to maintain social distance. For younger children, distancing is much more difficult. Group setting numbers should be more focused on the number of kids grouping together and 8-10 is right.”

Minimizing Risks

This summer it’s also important that pods lean into the ability to be outdoors. Dr. Barsanti-Sekhar says people should try to keep activities outdoors as much as possible.“This disease is primarily spread by close contact and the indoors only amplifies that.”

As a caregiver, you know which jobs are best for you. Take some time to consider the pros and cons of taking a job with a pod of families. “There is no eliminating the risk. It’s about taking steps to decrease the amount of risk as much as possible. Everything is a decision and a calculated risk.” Dr. Barsanti-Sekhar cautions.

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