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A story that helps explain coronavirus to kids

Charlie learns about coronavirus

Charlie with his parents

Hi. I’m Charlie.

Things have been sort of weird at my house. For one thing, I'm doing school on the computer right now instead of in my regular classroom. My mom usually works in an office, but now she's at home during the day too. My dad said it’s because of coronavirus.

I had a bunch of questions.

Charlie and his dad call Aunt Chris on a cellphone

My dad said, “Charlie, you ask very good questions. I just don’t know all the answers! I think your Aunt Chris can help.”

My aunt is a scientist. She knows a lot about germs. She lives in the same building we do. But my dad told me I had to call her on the phone.

Charlie and Aunt Chris talk to each other on their phones

Aunt Chris was happy I called her. She told me that even though we live close, we have to stay apart right now. That’s because of a type of germ called a virus. People call it the coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Aunt Chris said that when people get close to each other, it’s easy to share germs. That’s why we have to talk on the phone. And that’s why school is different right now.

Charlie pictures his grandma and his friend Arthur, who is using an inhaler

I learned that most people who get sick from the virus feel like they have a cold or the flu. Those people can stay home and rest to get better. Usually, kids don’t get too sick!

But this virus can make SOME people very sick. Like my grandma, because she’s older. And my friend Arthur, because he has asthma. They could get so sick that they have to go to the hospital! That made me feel worried.

Doctor, nurse, and firefighter, all wearing face masks

My aunt told me not to worry. She said that lots of doctors and other adults are working hard to keep everybody safe and healthy. That made me feel better. She told me that kids can help too!

“Charlie,” she said, “your job is to be a germ-buster.”

Here’s how I bust germs:

Washing the palms and backs of hands, between fingers, the thumbs, and under fingernails

I wash my hands with lots of bubbles. I scrub both sides, between my fingers, and under my nails. And I sing “Happy Birthday” twice while I do it.

That’s how I know I’m scrubbing long enough to kill germs.

Charlie sneezes into the arm of his shirt

If I cough or sneeze, I catch it in my elbow, like this! That stops germs from flying into the air, and it keeps them off my hands too.

Charlie wears a bug mask

I try really hard not to touch my face, because germs can get into my body through my eyes, nose, and mouth. But it’s not an easy thing to remember!

Sometimes at home I put on my bug mask for a little while to help remind me. It stops my hands if I try to scratch my nose or rub my eyes. And it makes my parents laugh when they see me.

Charlie and his dad wave across the street to their neighbors

When I leave my house, I put on a different kind of mask. It's cloth, and it covers my nose and mouth. I can still breathe just fine! My cloth mask helps me bust germs by making it harder for germs to move through the air.

I also follow directions from my parents about not getting close to other people. For now, I don’t hug our neighbors, the Greens. But I still say hi and wave.

Charlie and his mom have a video dance party with Arthur

I don’t go to art classes right now or play with friends at the park. But I can still have fun.

I make art at home. And today, I had a video dance party with Arthur!

It’s not how my normal day goes, but that’s okay. I know these changes aren’t forever. And right now, they are helping keep me and the people I love healthy and safe.

Charlie at a whiteboard invites you to add your ideas

Now that you know what Charlie does to be a germ-buster, what kinds of things can you do? Do you have ideas about how to keep your hands away from your face? What kinds of fun things can you do at home?