COVID-19: Kids, here’s what you need to know
We're sure you've been hearing a lot about COVID-19 and you may have some questions. It's ok to feel worried about something new that's happening. Stay healthy and protect others by learning what COVID-19 is and how you can help stop its spread.
On this page
- Understanding coronaviruses and COVID-19
- How you can prevent the spread
- Why some people are wearing masks
- What happens if you get sick
- Pets and COVID-19
- Going back to normal
- Talk about how you're feeling
Understanding coronaviruses and COVID-19
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses can make humans sick and some can make animals sick. It doesn't happen often, but sometimes, animal coronaviruses can infect humans who can then spread it to other humans.
Scientists are working hard to find out where COVID-19 came from. We know that it's similar to a coronavirus that usually lives in bats. Somehow, the virus infected a person and now it's spreading to other people.
COVID-19 is the scientific name for this type of coronavirus, which stands for:
- CO for corona
- VI for virus
- D for disease
- 19 for the year we found the virus
How you can prevent the spread
How it spreads
COVID-19 spreads the same way as a cold or the flu. When people talk, laugh, sing, cough or sneeze, tiny drops of liquid go into the air or land on surfaces. If the person has COVID-19, the virus can be in those drops and it can spread to other people.
You can get it if you breathe in or touch the tiny drops that have the virus in them. This can happen when you:
- spend time with someone who is sick
- touch your mouth, nose or eyes after touching something that the tiny drops landed on
- share dishes, forks, spoons, water bottles or drink containers with someone who is sick
Prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep yourself and others healthy.
Stay home and away from others if you're sick.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Scrub the front and back of each hand and between fingers. Keep track of the time by singing the "Happy Birthday" song twice. If there’s no soap and water around, a trusted adult may help you use hand sanitizer.
Cough or sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue, then put the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands right away.
Keep at least 2 metres away from anyone you don't live with. Two metres is about the same length as:
- 2 kid’s bicycles
- an adult's hockey stick
- one and a half pool noodles
Keep in touch with family and friends who you can't visit by:
- writing letters
- talking on the telephone or over video calls
As long as you're healthy, it's safe to go outside and get fresh air.
Be careful while visiting public beaches and swimming pools. The virus can spread from person to person in crowded areas around the water like:
- beaches, lakes or rivers
- pool decks
- public washrooms
Also, it’s important not to share your swimming gear with others. Things like:
- pool toys
- nose clips
- lifejackets during current use
- kick boards
- snorkel equipment
Remember, we all play a role in preventing the spread of COVID-19!
Why some people are wearing masks
You might see more people wearing masks. They're not trying to scare you. They're trying to keep people near them safe. Remember, superheroes wear masks too.
Some masks can stop tiny drops of liquid from going into the air when people talk, laugh, sing, cough or sneeze. This is helpful when it’s hard to keep your distance from people who don't live with you.
Kids older than 2 years old can wear masks too. Sometimes, you may be asked to wear a mask when you're near lots of people, like:
- inside stores
- around shopping areas
- on buses, trains or subways
If you're going to wear a mask, do the following:
Ask an adult to help you put on your mask and to take it off when you're done.
Wash your hands before you put the mask on and right after you take it off.
Don't move the mask around while you wear it.
Don't share your mask with anyone else.
Follow instructions you're given by a parent or trusted adult.
You may not be asked to wear a mask at your daycare, summer camp or school. This may be because they're taking extra measures to protect you in that setting.
What happens if you get sick
Most people who get COVID-19 don't feel very sick and can get better without a visit to the doctor or hospital. If you get it, you may feel like you have a cold or the flu.
You might have a:
- fever (higher than normal body temperature)
- hard time breathing
Some people may not look or feel sick at all when they have the virus. These people can still spread it to others.
It can take up to 14 days to show signs of COVID-19 after catching it from someone who is sick. If you start to feel sick, tell your parent or a trusted adult.
You need to be careful if you're sick. You could give it to someone who will get very sick, like older people or those who already have health problems. If they get sick, they may need to stay in the hospital.
It's important for all of us to work together to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Pets and COVID-19
Pets make us feel happy, especially when times are difficult. If you're not sick, you can play with and spend time with your pet. Taking your dog for a walk, or petting your cat, can help you both stay healthy and happy.
We're working hard to understand how COVID-19 affects pets and if they can spread it to humans. We haven't seen pets like dogs and cats spreading the disease to humans. But it's possible for you to make your pet sick if you're not feeling well.
If you feel sick or if you have COVID-19, you should:
- keep your distance from your pets until you’re feeling better
- have another family member, who isn't sick, take care of your pets
Remember to always wash your hands before and after touching your pet, their food, water bowl or their toys!
Going back to normal
COVID-19 is going to be around for a while. That's why we need to keep working to protect ourselves and others.
We're working hard to find the best way to help people who are sick. We're also trying to find a vaccine that will protect people from getting sick in the first place. But until that happens, the virus will keep spreading.
There's some good news! We all worked hard and followed directions, and the spread of COVID-19 has slowed. This means that some places that closed can now re-open.
This doesn't mean everything will open all at once. Your city or town gets to decide which places can re-open. If you live somewhere that has a higher chance of the virus spreading, like in a big city, places may open more slowly.
Talk to a parent or trusted adult to find out what's going on where you live. They can tell you what's open, what's closed and how you can keep protecting yourself and others.
Talk about how you're feeling
It's normal to feel worried during this time. You or your friends may even be scared about becoming sick. It's important to talk about how you're feeling. Don't be afraid to talk to a parent or trusted adult if:
- there's anything you're confused or worried about
- you have questions about what's going on
It can also help to talk to your friends and classmates and listen to each other's concerns.
If you need someone to talk to, you can call or text the Kids Help Phone. Counsellors are there for you at all times, day or night, when you call 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868.
You can also find and share trusted information on the COVID-19 website. Some of the information may be scientific or technical. You may want to look at it with a parent or a trusted adult. It's okay to ask questions!
This content has been adapted with permission from the Government of Alberta.
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