Take precautions – infectious virus


Sick Kid

Coronavirus and pandemic are words being cast around the world right now. People are scared. You can hear it in the almost panic voices of the news media as they expound on the coronavirus crisis. Being in children’s ministry, I naturally think about the children in our communities. To be specific, I think about the children in single-parent families.

Kids of divorce are often worriers. They worry about the siblings getting sick. They may worry about one of their parents being exposed to something like coronavirus. Mostly they worry alone as they travel back and forth between homes. They may see all the people, including little kids, with masks on in the airports or on the news. These kids are watching TV. They are hearing the news. They may hear one of their parents talking to their friends about it. But who is talking to the children?

Kids will wonder and be worried about “catching” this horrible virus. The children need reassurances they are going to be okay. Take the fear out of the situation by giving the children reasonable explanations. Allow them to ask questions. Be truthful in your answers.

Are you telling the children in single-parent families how to protect themselves?

Children of divorce may be at a higher risk than children in two-parent homes simply because they travel a lot. Many of these kids will routinely fly to see the other parent. This means they are in airports and on planes without a parent.

There are airline employees who make sure they get on the correct plane. On the plane they are the last people off, as they have to wait for an airline person to take them off the plane. The airport personnel  stay with the child until someone arrives to take the child from the airline employee.

I have had several of children in DC4K groups who travel quite often. As I thought about these kids traveling, I wanted to be able to give their parents some good and well-thought-out information that could pass on to the kids. I contacted my son, who is a doctor in the Dallas area hospitals, and he gave me some very good tips, some I hadn’t thought about.

Ways to help the children who must travel

  • Talk to the children about the coronavirus and how it is spread. For example if someone who is contagious sneezes on a door handle and they touch the door handle and then eat without washing their hands they could become infected.
  • Tell them to not touch their eyes, put their hands in their mouth or in their nose while in the airport or on the plane or any where for that matter including at school and church.
  • Wash their hands as soon as they arrive at their destination.
  • Explain the importance of hand washing when they are in the airport or on a plane.
  • Have them ask their parent to purchase disinfectant bleach wipes.
  • Talk about wiping off the trays on the airplane with the bleach wipes. You might even consider role-playing a scenario. Don’t expect the child to just know how to do it.
  • Tell them not to touch where they drink, such as the top of the straw or the rim of the cup or bottle.
  • Don’t touch the part of the eating utensil they will put in their mouth.
  • Don’t drink out of water fountains or fill up a water bottle from a water fountain.
  • Always wash their hands before eating, even eating snacks on the plane.
  • Explain should the child get a small cut or scratch to ask the airline employee immediately to properly clean the wound and cover it.

(As my son, Dr. Brian Ranson, explained to me these are actually good tips for anyone of any age who must travel a lot – especially his mother!)

What about your church

If your community and in particular your church should have an outbreak of some sort of a deadly disease will you know what to do? The first thing would be to call your local health agency or the CDC immediately to get their protocol in such a situation. A highly contagious disease like the coronavirus should not be handled on your own.

Churches need to have sanitary measures in place all the time. Leaders and volunteers need to know what to use to sanitize and keep things clean and as germ-free as possible.

My children’s minister friend Matt Norman says, “I think our job as a church is to write and maintain a certain wellness standard. But when it comes to something like the coronavirus, our place is to maintain the standards we have already set and then let the pros handle it from there.” Before Matt became a children’s minister, he had extensive experience in ER epidemiology.

If the CDC came to your church, they would contact anyone who might have been exposed. Our job in the church would be to provide them with

  • Accurate attendance records
  • Up-to-date personal information including phone numbers, emails, addresses
  • What school the child attends
  • Know who a child lives with
  • Name of the person who brought the child to church
  • When the last time the child visited the other parent

While I hope no church has to face a deadly disease, you need to be prepared. You must be ready to comfort and pray for the people in your community.


This article is updated and adapted from an article on Ebola that was originally published on the Kids & Divorce blog in October 2014.

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