Coronavirus and Social Distancing in Champaign-Urbana
Champaign-Urbana, State of Illinois, and national public health officials are strongly recommending social distancing in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus. As social beings, this can be a difficult task, but one that’s very important. We want to help parents help their kids from suffering from social isolation and/or boredom.
While not a comprehensive list, we’ve gathered resources and tips to help Champaign-Urbana area families manage in this new era of social distancing and learning from home. (note: this post contains some affiliate sales links; when you buy something we earn a small sliver.)
First things first. What is Social Distancing? What is Self Quarantine?
The CDC defines social distancing as it applies to COVID-19 as “remaining out of congegrate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.”
Quarantine means the “separation of a person or people reasonably believed to have been exposed to a communicable disease but not yet symptomatic from others who have not been so exposed in order to prevent the possible spread of the disease.” (source: Johns Hopkins University)
Local health officials are asking for “social distancing” strategies that include canceling large gatherings; the governor has banned events more than 1000 people, while the University of Illinois is not allowing events of 50 or more and moved to online classes.
We’re seeing most pre-planned activities canceled and rescheduled: concerts, festivals, playtime, sporting events, storytimes, and other gatherings. We’re doing our best to keep track of those on our calendar. In addition, we have a resource for how institutions like the Urbana Park District, State Farm Center, Virginia Theatre and more are handling future events and performances.
Where to play and what to do with kids during social distancing
Outside places to play
If the weather is pleasant, playing outside is a terrific option when you need to get out of the house. The more natural and distant from one another, the better! Kids and families especially need fresh air and sunshine, especially during this stressful time. Some experts recommend that it’s better to walk, bike, and bring riding toys than to play at the playground, however.
If you do go to the playground, take a packet of sanitizing wipes and wash hands often. (Take some of these suggestions with a grain of salt and use your own best judgement; please remember we have written most of our park content in a very different time and context.)
We have many suggestions about where to play outside with little kids (specifically). We’ve also listed some of our favorite Champaign-Urbana area places to experience nature with kids.
Unfortunately, state parks are now closed.
A few best great options for hiking and other recreation if you don’t mind driving a bit: Moraine View State Park near LeRoy and Kickapoo State Park in Danville, both less than an hour away.
Want to go to a special park at night, and see the stars in a new way? Check out the “Dark Park” at Middle Fork Forest Preserve.
If you have older kids, they might enjoy geocaching (sort of like a prize hunt!). We recently went geocaching in Dodds Park in Champaign.
Looking for parks closer to Champaign-Urbana? Here are some of our favorites:
Hessel Park in Champaign | Meadowbrook Park in Urbana | Carle Park in Urbana | Porter Park in Champaign | West Side Park in Champaign | Colbert Park in Savoy | Crystal Lake Park in Urbana | Lake of the Woods in Mahomet
Stay home with your family
What to do if you’re staying home? Well, there’s baking and cooking to do, crafts to make, and busy bags to create. (Pinterest anyone?)
This is a great time to make your own version of the “I’m Bored” jar.
Home Ec 101: This is a great time to teach your kids how to do the laundry, load the dishwasher, detail the car, clean the bathroom, make a meal from start to finish, bake bread, wash the windows, organize toys, etc.
If you have a yard, this is a good time to get a jump on spring cleanup; yard waste collection is still scheduled to happen in April. It’s a bit early to plant, but not too early to plan out a garden. Or consider creating a fairy garden.
Kids feeling isolated? In the age of digital communication, set up a virtual playdate with friends. Figure out an activity that kids can do in parallel. Maybe even stage your own virtual baking competition or figure out a way to play a game together.
Genius Hour projects: At school, the kids only get to work on Genius Hour projects an hour here and there. This is the time for them to really dig in and find things that excite them. Learn more about Genius Hour here: https://geniushour.com/what-is-genius-hour/
Trying to limit screen time? Make it educational. There has been a resurgence of documentaries recently. Everything from teens sailing around the world solo to nature documentaries. Get inspiration here: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/best-documentaries
Audio books: Instead of having music on, get some audio books to listen to while doing an art project or playing with Lego.
Some organizations and enterprises are putting together virtual classes, such as this drawing course. We will add local ones as we learn of them.
Homeschooling tips for novice parents
We recently updated our Champaign-Urbana homeschool resources article; this is geared towards families who are committed to long-term homeschooling, but has lots of info that may be helpful to parents as they try to incorporate at-home learning with kids unexpectedly home from school.
If you’re managing life at home with a K-12 student, here is a wonderful resource about how to prepare for extended school closings—and not lose your mind by giving students some space and some structure.
8 fantastic educational resources for online learning, just in case you need them, parents. Dozens more free distance learning programs (we cannot vouch for this list, it is very long, but use it as a starting point for your research.)
Virtual Museum Tours from around the world – Stuck at Home? Take a video field trip 12 Famous Museums Offer Virtual Tours from London, NYC, Washington DC, Paris, Seoul, Berlin, Amsterdam, LA, Florence, São Paulo, and Mexico City.
At home STEM challenges: give your kids a bunch of random stuff and challenge them to build something. More ideas here: https://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/easy-simple-stem-acti…/
How to talk to your kids about Coronavirus & COVID-19
Resources for Children We Love
NPR put out a comic book for talking to kids about Coronavirus. Depending on your children’s ages, you may want to check it out online together or print it out as a booklet or poster.
Here is a good resource for talking to kids about the coronavirus that was put together by the National Association of School Psychologists.
Here’s a book I’ve seen recommended by a number of trusted sources: Something Bad Happened: A Kid’s Guide to Coping With Events in the News
Local information resources during COVID-19 emergency
Find the most current information through the local and state health officials: