As of this writing, the state of Arkansas has 9 presumed positive cases of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. As the local and statewide leadership make decisions to take necessary precautions — closing schools, limiting gatherings — many more Arkansans may feel anxious; about the unknown, remaining free from infection, and what to do with their children during this block of time without school.
Fortunately, many of the communities and school districts presently affected are planning a number of ways to continue to feed students in the interim, as many children and households count on the meals provided at school.
But what about the anxieties surrounding activities?
In the January issue of our magazine, we featured an article entitled A Remedy for Cabin Fever, which was originally designed as a preemptive guide to having fun with your family at home in the event of inclement weather snowing (or icing) you in. For most of the state, this specific example did not precipitate, but all of those tips and tricks remain relevant to this moment in time, as related to the novel coronavirus.
Creative ways to not only find joy in your home but also bond with your loved ones include: Having a family photo dig, reviving an old family recipe in the kitchen, hosting an indoor campout, family quiz bowl and (if you have canine companions) holding a dog show with your pet.
Outside of that, the seemingly obvious examples of indoor activities also involve putting a puzzle together as a family or playing board games (this is the perfect time to actually finish a game of Monopoly).
And don’t hesitate to step outside your comfort zone. If your children are gamers, grab a joystick for yourself and give your thumbs a workout. Step into their world of video games and laugh with — and at — each other.
Our friends at the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society (CAAS) have an “out of this world” idea to take your time at home to well beyond the confines of your couch, virtually.
“Trapped inside but you still want to get outside and explore the night sky? Try Stellarium,” CAAS posted on Facebook.
Stellarium is an online program that brings the wonders of the universe to your living room, or rather, your computer, showing a realistic night sky in 3D.
Another open-source platform that takes you beyond even earth is called Celestia. This program is a space simulator in 3D which provides users the ability to travel all around the universe to view and interact with simulations of other stars, planets, solar systems, and even create custom worlds.
Not only are these programs unique ways to have countless hours of fun, but they are also great opportunities for your children to continue learning outside of school. Best of all, both Stellarium and Celestia are completely free to use.
No matter your decision, always remember to remain calm during this time. If not only for you, but also for your children. Wash your hands. Use common sense and your best judgment.
More information about COVID-19 and the presumed positive cases in Arkansas can be found on the Arkansas Department of Health website.
See also this video regarding frequently asked questions, from Arkansas surgeon general, Dr. Greg Bledsoe.