Nanny and Family Agreements During COVID-19

Apologies if this has been posted elsewhere.

Since our day care closed permanently (due to COVID-19), our family has transitioned to a nanny to provide care for our kids on a part-time basis. What expectations, specifically around wearing a mask, have other families asked of themselves and of their nanny's to keep everyone as safe as possible?

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Hi! We have a nanny for our now 19-month-old daughter. And as you probably know, keeping toddlers indoors for long periods of time in a small apartment can drive everyone crazy, especially when she's used to being outdoors. Our Nanny has stayed working with us since the start of SIP, and she has strolled around the neighborhood with our daughter. When she goes out she wears a mask. Inside the house, she doesn't need to. We are a shoes-off household, and maintaining good hygiene and wearing mask outdoors for adults has been the main rule. She has not been in contact with too many neighborhood kids, and other nannies until recently. The rule is for adults to maintain social distance with masks. With the children is to maintain good hygiene (washing their hands frequently and wiping down toys). It's all-new territory for us, but I understand how precious and important it is for children to have social interactions for their development. I hope this helps! 

We haven't asked our nanny to do any of that as we have accepted the risk of getting Covid by sending our older child to preschool and having a nanny in our home.  I'd prefer if our nanny didn't wear a mask so our child saw the facial expressions of the nanny at this age in life (he's only 5 months).  However, if our nanny asked to wear a mask, we'd respect her wishes.  In addition, our nanny sees her family (which we would never ask her not to do) but she has let us know outside of her immediate family, she takes precautions.  

We needed help but wanted to make the situation as safe as possible for our caregiver. So, we asked her to wear a mask at all times, we have spray bottles of sanitizer around the house for her to use and ask that she use it on herself and our daughter when she comes in. We also leave all the windows open and make sure the house is cleaned before she gets there and we wear masks at all times when in the house with her. We also limited her to only four hours at a time, and asked her to spend as much time as possible outside with our daughter. She has been fantastic about all of that and it makes me feel better as her employer knowing that I am trying to limit her possible exposure as much as possible while she is providing me with an enormously beneficial service. Just be upfront about it and make sure they know you are taking their health and safety very seriously.

We are starting with our nanny soon and I wrote the following into our contract. We will not be requiring the wearing of masks, assuming we all follow the below guidelines. Our daughter is going to be 7 months old and I think she's definitely more comfortable seeings faces and feeds off of the visual cues we give through smiling, for example. 

Expectations for Nanny:

●      Practice strict precautions to avoid contracting COVID-19. Practice social distancing with those outside of your household, wear a mask out in public and keep one on hand for any outings with the child, wash hands often, for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water. Take your temperature before commuting each workday to check for a fever (100 degrees or higher). Communicate with parents if you, a member of your family, or someone you have been in close contact with in the last 14 days, is experiencing any of the following symptoms. It is important not to report to work without discussing this prior with parents.

  • Fever (100 degrees or higher), Chills, Shivering/shakes
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or congested nose
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Unexplained muscle aches
  • Feeling unusually weak or fatigued
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye redness with or without discharge

Expectations for Parents:

● Practice strict precautions to avoid contracting COVID-19. Practice social distancing with those outside of your household, wear a mask out in public and keep one on hand for any outings with the child, wash hands often, for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water. Take each family member’s temperature each morning to check for a fever (100 degrees or higher). Communicate with nanny if any member of the family, or someone they have been in close contact with in the last 14 days, is experiencing any of the following symptoms. 

  • Fever (100 degrees or higher), Chills, Shivering/shakes
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or congested nose
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Unexplained muscle aches
  • Feeling unusually weak or fatigued
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye redness with or without discharge

Your nanny is part of your family's bubble and I have not heard of anyone requiring their nanny to wear a mask in their home. Consider this: at some points during her very long day with you, she will need to take off the mask to drink and eat right? So that alone makes the point of wearing it the rest of the time pretty moot. If it's off anytime in the home, you are exposed.

You are unlikely to find a nanny who's willing to wear a mask at your home, And you're better off focusing questions on what the nanny is doing to distance and what her lifestyle is like outside working for you. If she's someone who's already getting together with a big group of friends or resuming a lot of normal activities, That's far more risky in my opinion, even if that person were masked, than somebody who's actually still distancing who doesn't wear a mask. We just continued to communicate with our nanny every week about what we're doing, and what feels comfortable to both of us.

Our nanny wore a mask, and my husband and I wore masks if we were in the house at the same time as her, which we tried to avoid for her sake. Every morning before she arrived, we opened all the windows, wiped down high touch surfaces, and set out clean hand towels and dish towels. (Our daughter recently started daycare, hence the past tense.)

We consider our two nanny families and nanny a part of the same "bubble" and therefore don't wear masks around one another. 

Our nanny always wears a mask when she takes our daughter outside the home, and carries sanitizing wipes, travel soap & a spray bottle full of water with her as well so that both she and my daughter can wash hands frequently. Inside our home, there is no mask wearing as we consider our nanny an extension of our family/part of our bubble -- we don't 'social distance' from her.  Childcare is such hands-on work, to me this seemed like the only reasonable way to approach it. When we hired our nanny, we had to accept the inherent risk that presents to us (we didn't really have a choice...) and did our best to hire someone who was incredibly hygienic and taking things seriously -- someone we would feel comfortable having in our bubble.  

We are contracting with a nanny as we will be returning to work from family leave (just had our second child).  We have put in her contract to adhere strictly to the County's health officer's orders, but I'm not sure exactly how to manage and administer that without creating a large burden.  We obviously plan to have a detailed conversation about her family's approach to preventing the spread of the disease. I want to do everything I can to protect my family, and to protect the nanny too.

Here are some thoughts to our approach:  no masks required in the house (to benefit the growth of the children); correct mask-wearing required in public (parents, nanny, toddler as much as possible); daily temperature checks of us and nanny; "excellent hygiene" including proper hand-washing upon arrival, before and after eating (herself and children), after restroom use (obviously), etc.  Also considering keeping a list of those included in her social bubble and a list of new contacts and dates. 

I am looking for thoughts and feedback from other parents too.