Coronavirus for Kids: Q & A

by Becky Baker, 5th Grade Teacher, Grand Haven;  Edited by Dr. Mia Taormina, Infectious Disease physician

Coronavirus is a germ. Germs and viruses are so small that we can’t see them with our eyes. Think about a time when you had a cold or the flu. Coronavirus acts a lot like that. We gave it a fancy name: COVID-19. People who get sick from it can have a fever, a cough, or a hard time getting a good breath in. Does that sound like a sickness you have had before? You are probably saying, “YES!”

A special part of our body called the immune system gets in a fight with these germs. Imagine a football game—one team is your immune system, and the other team is the germ. The teams are playing ALL the time to protect you.

Coronavirus, the flu, and colds spread by itty bitty drops from sneezes or coughs. Those teeny tiny little snot boogers can also live on things we touch for many hours, or until we clean them. The best thing to do is to stay home with an adult if you are sick and go to the doctor if you get very sick.

Q:  Why are people so scared about Coronavirus?

A:  Because it is new, we haven’t had much time to study it with scientists and doctors. We don’t have any special medicines or shots called vaccines yet. If you feel scared, try to tell yourself that adults around you are working hard to take care of you, because they are!

Q:  Am I going to get Coronavirus?  Is my family?

A:  We don’t know for sure. It’s like asking, “Am I going to get a cold next week?” You can’t really know. Not very many kids have gotten sick from Coronavirus. Most of the people that do have it are sick for a few days and get better at home (just like the flu.)  But there are things you CAN do to help your body win the game!

Q:  Okay, what can I do to take care of MYSELF?  

A:  Easy peasy—follow the same healthy habits you do right now: sleep enough, exercise, eat nutritious food, and...

WASH YOUR HANDS with soap and water — many times a day. This is a good thing to do all the time, because you can help others like little babies and grandmas or grandpas stay well when you spread less germs around. 

  • Scrub. Really scrub. Scrub a LOT, LOT. Pretend you are a doctor. Doctors clean every part around their fingers and squish soap under their nails. They sing songs to make sure they are cleaning for a long time. You can too!
  • Hand Sanitizer is good if you don’t have a place with soap and a sink.  But it takes 4 whole minutes before it will stop the germs and viruses, and good hand washing beats them in just 30 seconds. Washing with soap gets the germs more slippery so that the water will push them right off your hands. Then you can say, “Bye, bye, germs.”
  1. Try hard NOT to touch your face, mouth, & eyes.  That’s where a lot of germs get in.
  2. Use the “Vampire” when you cough or sneeze: move your arm—the inside of your elbow part—to catch those teeny tiny snot drops. The Vampire helps because you don’t use the inside of your arm to touch very many things.

Q:  What if school is closed?

A:  It might be for a while. You have had colds and flu germs since you were a baby. But this type of coronavirus is a brand-new germ in the world. Just think of it as a kind of cold that no one has had before. The first time it goes around, there might be a lot of people feeling yucky all at once!  Keeping people at home might stop them from passing it around so much.

Think about a time when you had snow days or a school closing. You wrote stories, read e-books, and used computers or apps to learn. Some teachers have websites you can look at for ideas of fun things to do.  Above all, do this: READ, READ, READ!

Q:  What if I am still feeling worried?

A:  Talk to an adult you trust. You might hear scary sounding things on the news or in the hallway at school. Some of what you hear may not be real. People make mistakes as they learn new things. The best way to find out is to talk with an adult you trust!

Your teachers, doctors, nurses, and lots of special scientists at hospitals are all getting ready to make sure we take good care of you and your family.

My Word Wise Glossary

germ: a very, very, very small living thing that can get inside people or animals and make them sick. Medicine called antibiotics can sometimes help make it better.

virus: a very, very, very, small living thing that can get inside people or animals and make them sick. We don’t have a lot of medicines that work for viruses, so we have to help the immune system fight it in other ways.

Coronavirus: a special kind of virus that makes someone cough and sneeze a lot. Sometimes people have a hard time getting breaths of air inside them if that snot and gooey junk (called mucus) gets in the way.

immune system: your body’s superpowered germ fighting machine!  It sends special living things into your blood to make you healthy again, like a germ ninja warrior.

hand sanitizer: clear slimy stuff you rub on your hands that has germ killers inside it. You can use this when you don’t have a sink or soap near you. It takes a few minutes until it kills the germs and viruses.

the flu: a virus that makes you sneeze, cough, blow your nose a lot, get a fever, and sometimes makes you throw up. There is a shot you can have that stops the flu or makes you less sick if you do get the flu.

vaccine: a shot that can stop you from getting a really bad sickness or makes it a lot less bad if you do get it.  The shots hurt for a few seconds, but then keep you healthy for days, weeks, and sometimes even years.