If a vaccinated child is highly exposed to Covid at home but is still healthy, parents might consider keeping that child home to protect others. Masks do come off at lunch. But this measure would be going above and beyond the federal recommendations, and only one expert I spoke with recommended it.
Should I try to reduce exposure in the household, even if it seems futile?
As parents know, the term “close contact” takes on a whole new meaning with young children, who seem to have an uncanny ability to sneeze in your face. Even so, the experts agreed that reducing exposure to each others’ illnesses is still worth the effort.
There is a small window of time when this is particularly important — between exposure and when the immune system begins to fully engage.
Parents have to care for children, and some siblings simply can’t be kept apart. Still, there are steps you can take. Whoever gets sick first should be in his or her own room, if possible. Put a HEPA filter in there, if you have one. Try to get the sick person to stay in there for meals. Wear high-quality masks when family members are together.
Open the windows. Place another HEPA filter, if you have two, where other family members are spending time. Another pro-tip: Keep the air at 40 to 60 percent humidity, which helps stop aerosol transmission, Dr. Pirzada said, by using a hygrometer or a humidifier to measure the level.
Use common sense. Once the air filters are running, the windows are cracked and masks are worn when possible; attempting more may feel like too much if a young child is ill. “If my kid were sick, my natural instinct would be to care for them,” said Dr. Linsey Marr, a leading expert on viral transmission. “I could see throwing my hands up, relying on the vaccine and my good health to keep me from falling seriously ill and cuddling with my kid.”
The good news is that once you test positive, exposure to other family members who are also positive is unlikely to make you sicker, the experts agreed. And it isn’t likely that the family members who recover first will be reinfected by those still sick.