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How to safely gather?


sangtarah
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My mom is asking to arrange a “welcome home/birthday” party for us/me after we move. She would like to rent a water bouncy slide and have my sisters family over, plus a couple other folks. She is proposing keeping everyone outside. 

My sister and family are anti-mask, anti-vax, very out and about. I think everyone else would be vaxxed. 
Mom wants my kids to wear a mask.

I am pretty sure I will turn her down, but I told her I would think about it, and see if there is a way to do this without risking my kids health. Any ideas? 

I can see it from her view, as a mom. My niece is ecstatic to see her 3 girl cousins, and my son loves to see my 2 boy nephews. We haven’t been altogether since Christmas 2019. But with 5-11 year vaccines coming soon, I’m not sure it’s worth it. Although my 4 year old will still be unprotected, sigh. 😔 

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I would decline. 
Masking works best when those infected mask.  When you have a very out and about, anti-vax, anti-mask family getting in the faces of other kids and in their personal space, it's not going to be safe for them even if they do wear a mask.  Germs would be flowing freely right into their airspace.  It's not a situation that would make me comfortable.

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14 minutes ago, katilac said:

Any chance your mom is being passive-aggressive about this? Because renting a water slide and saying your kids can wear masks doesn't seem like a completely genuine offer. 

My thought too, unless she’s massively uninformed about wet masks.  

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At these levels of transmission I would only be willing to gather with unvaccinated folks outside, with masks (for everyone), and distance. (I'd be okay with individuals popping inside, alone, for bathroom use.) I *might* be okay with no masks if I could be *very* confident about people keeping their distance.

With little kids, if I could keep mine masked, and rely on other families to do the same, I would still want a more controlled environment where parents help the kids keep their distance. Something shorter and less bouncy would be my preference. Circles of well-spaced lawn chairs would be okay. With masks.

This doesn't sound possible for your sister's family. Things like this might have to wait.

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So, *if* you want to see all these folks, and *if* they will also be cooperative, and *if* the bouncy/water slide can be rejected (because, ummm, right, that's not going to work) -- here is how we've done outdoor gatherings with family who normally don't mask. 

Rule 1 -- everyone does mask for the get-together, except when food is actually right then being consumed
Rule 2 -- everyone sits in family groupings outdoors so that when the food is being eaten, you are only w/in 6 feet of your own household
3 -- bathroom is indoors; one at a time only, masked, exhaust fan on while in there (if there is one); hand sanitize before, use paper towels inside to dry hands (vs a shared towel); have sanitizing wipes and instruct all members to wipe door handle, toilet handle, sink faucets, etc., before/after; consider a trash can on the outside of the door so they can wipe the outside door handle on the way out, too, and drop the wipe there
4 -- if the hosting family can use their own bathroom/a separate one from the visiting family members, even better 
5 -- no hugs, handshakes, etc. 
6 -- if extra super concerned, everyone bring their own food; if doing shared food -- one person goes through the line at a time and use color-coded (by family) utensils to serve OR  one person serves (masked, hands sanitized) and passes out food one at a time to people; use disposable everything 
7 -- Helpful Hint: drinks with straws means you can, if you want, still drink things with your mask on

So, it *can* be done, if you want to. No bouncy slide. And the non-masking folks have to be on board to be masked the whole time, and understand that "while eating" doesn't mean place an open bag of chips on the table, take your mask off, and have at it all day. Or you have to be willing to leave if they try that (or decide for yourself if they're sitting far enough away). 

 

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For food, the church "picnic" last weekend instead of having individual items set up to take they had full plates made up ahead of time, in the kitchen, by masked, vaccinated, gloved volunteers. Everyone came up, masked, and took a plate back to their seating area. This mean yes, more waste because my 9 yr old isn't going to eat a full plate of food, but was safer. And really, if he was grabbing stuff buffett style he'd get too much to eat anyway, and not finish it. 

So having one person make up plates would work. 

Or having food stations for each family. 

But not a slide unless you can be strict about one person on slide at a time, to distance them, etc. 

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I would decline but I'm just coming off of having to deal with 3 anti-mask anti-vaccine relatives exposing my mom to covid and then asking her to hide the fact that they have covid from the rest of the family.  My mom lives with me so she exposed all of us.  So, I have zero trust in any anti-mask/anti-vaccine people at this point. 

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5 minutes ago, freesia said:

I guess I’ll be the dissenter. It would depend, for me, where this party is. If it’s one of the states with high positivity and spread, I wouldn’t. If it’s not, then I probably would. Could your kids wear Kn95 masks?

On a water bouncy house???  

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6 minutes ago, freesia said:

I guess I’ll be the dissenter. It would depend, for me, where this party is. If it’s one of the states with high positivity and spread, I wouldn’t. If it’s not, then I probably would. Could your kids wear Kn95 masks?

Florida  - or shall I say, as a native Floridian, "Floridumb"

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23 minutes ago, ktgrok said:

Florida  - or shall I say, as a native Floridian, "Floridumb"

Florida??? Oh, yeah, no...

Sorry, OP. Could your mom convince your sister’s family to have the kids wear masks when playing and then eat at separate tables?

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Can your family go early to hang out with the grands, an your kids go play on the bouncy. Then have everyone meet for a dry hang out (while you mask). Then the other kids can play on the bouncy after you leave?

Obviously, you will have to deal with a bit of awkwardness, but if you want to make it work, you probably can. 

It would be a bit emotionally draining, but sometimes it is just nice to work things out so family can see family. 

Edited by Tap
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We are going to share the acreage with my parents, so no chance of visiting first or second. 

I know this will set a precedent. But sharing the property means walking a line between safety and not restricting access to grandparents. So I cannot forbid my sisters family from ever coming over. I really need cooperation from sis, but unfortunately I just don’t think it will happen. 

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1 hour ago, Tap said:

Can your family go early to hang out with the grands, an your kids go play on the bouncy. Then have everyone meet for a dry hang out (while you mask). Then the other kids can play on the bouncy after you leave?

Obviously, you will have to deal with a bit of awkwardness, but if you want to make it work, you probably can. 

It would be a bit emotionally draining, but sometimes it is just nice to work things out so family can see family. 

I think wanting the kids to play together is one of the main points, so, if I were willing to do it all, it would be without the water slide. It just complicates things and certainly isn't necessary. 

It is nice to work things out and see family, but it's not always possible. If the OP thinks it's better not to go, that can be a valid, guilt-free decision. 

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6 hours ago, Katy said:

My thought too, unless she’s massively uninformed about wet masks.  

This is off topic, but our local parks pool (in a very COVID cautious area) has a picture of life guards in training in an actual pool, as in wet, all masked, on their Facebook page.  It was just so bizarre.   

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48 minutes ago, katilac said:

I think wanting the kids to play together is one of the main points, so, if I were willing to do it all, it would be without the water slide. It just complicates things and certainly isn't necessary. 

It is nice to work things out and see family, but it's not always possible. If the OP thinks it's better not to go, that can be a valid, guilt-free decision. 

I agree. I am not sure if you are just adding to the conversation, or thinking I am pressuring or adding to thier guilt. 

The OP asked: (snip)

7 hours ago, sangtarah said:

I am pretty sure I will turn her down, but I told her I would think about it, and see if there is a way to do this without risking my kids health. Any ideas? 

So, I gave my idea of how it could work. No guilt involved. Just a suggestion.  I have friends and family all over the mask/vaccinate spectrum. I try to make things work how ever I can, but sometimes, the answer just has to be 'next time...when COVID isn't as bad'. 

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If this is Florida, I would probably just say no now.  Even though you are sharing land with parents I would think it important to make sure you are laying down healthy boundaries immediately.  It will be easier to lighten up on boundaries than make them harder.   
 

if I were going to allow it, I would keep it to an hour, masked and no food, outdoors.  The fact that your sister is likely to balk and possibly ignore precautions would make me want to wait until kids are vaxxed.  I think it is weird your mom is suggesting that just your kids mask.  

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Florida schools have been in session for what, 4-6 weeks at this point?  If they're in school there's a good chance those kids have had asymptomatic Delta in the past 6 weeks.  I'd ask if they're open to go get a covid test and an antibody test at a pharmacy.  If they ALL test negative for Covid and positive for antibodies I'd feel okay relaxing about it for 8 weeks, depending on how rapidly Mu & other variants spread during that time.

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I'd just ask your parents to wait another month or so, so your kids can be vaccinated first. And hopefully by then cases will be much lower here - at the rate people are getting infected it is going to burn out some I think. 

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I wouldn't do it. And I'm a bit more chill about precautions than a lot of people these days (though I don't have younger kids so that's a big part of it). If her kids and the adults would mask and everyone was outside and distanced when eating, then I'd say fine. But one of the things about agreeing to be around a family that openly doesn't care about safety is that then they've told you that they openly don't care about safety. It's like, sure, we could all get stabbed at random on the street, but that doesn't mean I have to go hang out at the knife throwing party.

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52 minutes ago, Farrar said:

  It's like, sure, we could all get stabbed at random on the street, but that doesn't mean I have to go hang out at the knife throwing party.

Or walk in a bad part of town right after the bars close.

 

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