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Is it safe to send your kids back to summer camp or to babysitters?

The risk of COVID-19 is still out there, but how do you decide if your family would benefit from a return to camp or childcare?

TAMPA, Fla — The number of COVID-19 cases in Florida continues to rise, despite the state moving forward on its path to reopening.

As businesses reopen, parents in the Tampa Bay area may be looking for summer camp or childcare options as they return to work. Ultimately, the decision to send kids to a caregiver or to a summer camp program comes down to personal choice and finances.

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Some families may feel safer keeping their kids at home this summer and may financially be able to do so, but others may have to return to work and have no option but to find care for their children. Either way, how do you weigh the risks?

You can look at a few key factors: the number of COVID-19 cases in your community, the health of people who live in your home and the emotional state of your family.

Are the number of coronavirus cases decreasing? Are you comfortable with the number of cases?

Second, do you live with elderly family members or people who may be more susceptible to contracting COVID-19? Sending your kids out into the community may be risking the health of immunocompromised family members in your home.

Third, how is your family doing emotionally? Are you finding it hard to balance working from home, household duties and virtual schooling? Are your kids having a tough time being separated from their friends or kids of the same age? Only you can decide what will be best for your family.

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If you do decide to send your kids to a summer camp program or to a child care provider, we asked a doctor what kinds of things you should be looking for to make sure your kids are safe. Dr. Paul Nanda is the Chief Medical Officer of Tampa General Hospital's urgent care centers. He's also a father with another baby on the way.

"Look for places that are adopting CDC guidelines," Nanda said. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends social distancing guidelines, like placing students at least six feet apart, temperature checks for staff, staggered drop off times and frequent cleaning schedules. 

Nanda also recommends considering the age of your child. A young child will need more physical contact for things like a diaper change or clothing change and older children may be able to practice social distancing on their own. 

Also, have a conversation about wearing a mask. 

"I think it depends on the comfort of the parent and the teacher, or the place," Nanda said. "I've seen quite a few families with kids in masks and I think that's a responsible thing to do...but having a three-year-old in a mask all day...if you've ever been a  parent or you've watched a three-year-old, you know that's a daunting task."

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