Tennessee State health officials now confirm (as of Sunday, March 15) 39 cases of coronavirus/Covid-19. Here in Middle Tennessee it breaks down to 17 cases in Davidson County, 14 in Williamson, one in Rutherford. 

"Social distancing" is the keyphrase for the days we're now experiencing with the outbreak. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it means staying away from places where large gatherings occur and avoiding public transportation (including rideshares like Uber and Lyft). If you do happen to be out and about, the CDC says to distance yourself at least six feet from others. 

Most local attractions in the Middle Tennessee area have closed their doors temporarily and canceled their events – some for a week or two while others are shutting down for an entire month — in an effort to help prevent the further spread of the pandemic. 

While it's important to heed the advice of medical experts in regard to social distancing, limiting your kids' playdates and other activities, it doesn't mean your family has to become recluses. 

"We're not asking people to be hermits, go home, lock the door and crawl under the bed," says William Schaffner, professor of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. "We're being asked to do whatever we can to spread some distance between us."

No doubt, it doesn't take too long to get "shacky wacky" when you're holed up at home and just need to get out of the house for a while with the kids. Fresh air is important. Consider the following options if you decide to go out and about, and know that the attractions still operating are taking extra sanitary precautions to help maintain health and safety standards.

WHAT YOU CAN DO THIS WEEK!

Things are changing rapidly in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Be sure to call ahead to confirm openings and availability before you head out.

ART CAMPS AT LITTLE ART HOUSE
Because they're small in class size, Little Art House is keeping its Art Camps open this week, which include the Art Camp for Grades K - 2 (along with an additional one for ages 4 to Grade 2 at The Getalong in East Nashville) and the Extended Mini Camp for ages 3 - 6. Co-Owner Leighton Lancaster says they're following the CDC's recommendations and are making decisions one day at time, but for now, their art camps are a go!

SPRING BREAK ACTIVITIES AT BOWIE NATURE PARK
Each day this week, there's a new nature activity on tap from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., including a scavenger hunt, for families with kids of all ages, and it's free!

CALMING COLORING & OTHER FUN AT GALLATIN PUBLIC LIBRARY
The Gallatin Public Library remains open with its programming intact — however, the stuffed animals in the Children's Library are all now in hibernation! Staff is closely monitoring the outbreak situation, but for now all events are still happening. Every Tuesday, you can drop in at 5:30 p.m. for Calming Coloring in a relaxing environment (and a free cup of coffee for adults). Music with Miss Shannon also takes place on Tuesdays at 10:30 & 11:30 a.m. for preschoolers to enjoy explore songs, music appreciation and playing musical instruments.

LUCKY LEPRECHAUN BOUNCING
BounceU in Murfreesboro has preschool and all-ages sessions on Tuesday, March 17. Kids can bounce on inflatables and search for leprechauns.

VISIT YOUR LOCAL PARKS AND GREEN SPACES
Get some fresh air! A trip to your area parks, green spaces and playgrounds are a great place for it:

Brentwood Parks, Trails & Greenways
Davidson County Parks & Playgrounds
Davidson County Greenways and Trails
Franklin Parks & Playgrounds
Gallatin Parks, Playgrounds & Trails
Hendersonville Parks, Playgrounds & Trails
Mt. Juliet Parks & Playgrounds
Rutherford County Parks, Playgrounds & Trails
Williamson County Parks & Playgrounds

Consider taking art supplies with you — sketch pads and pencils or a canvas with paints so you and your kids can enjoy creative time together in the open air. Don't underestimate the power of creativity when it comes to easing your mind.

Do note that health experts say there is evidence that coronavirus can live on plastic and metal for up to nine days, so if you do visit a playground, take hand sanitizer with you and a container of disinfectant wipes to clean off swings, etc., before your child plays on them.

TAKE YOUR LITTLES TO EXPLORE FEATHERED FRIENDS
Bledsoe Creek State Park's monthly Little Naturalists program is still on for now on Thursday, March 19 at 10:15 a.m. It's a bird-themed topic for ages 2 - 5 that includes a story and craft activity. Admission is $5, and you need to register in advance.

START PLANTING A FLOWER GARDEN
Local spots like Lowes and Home Depot have a lot of spring flowers ready to put in the ground. Take your kids and let them pick out their favorite flora to bring home and plant in your yard.


PREPARE FOR RAINY DAYS

There's a wet forecast this week, so if you're wondering what to do with the kids while stuck indoors, here are a few ideas for family fun inside:

Under the Sea Treasure Hunt

Run a bubble bath with lots of bubbles and fill the tub with a variety of objects for your child to find buried beneath the foam. Your little one can be in or outside of the tub while exploring.

Stuffed Animal Petting Zoo

Bring out a variety of your child's stuffed animals and arrange them around the room. Let your child go one by one telling you each animal's name, then have fun sharing easy-to-understand facts with your child about each critter's real-life counterpart.

Create an Obstacle Course

Break out the blankets, sheets and pillows to create obstacles to jump on and crawl through. Make blanket tunnels and arrange chairs to crawl under. If you have more than one young child, turn it into a competition and time each child to see who can get through the course fastest.

Window Drawing

Have a supply of washable markers at the ready and let your child get creative by drawing scenes on a picture window. A sunshine scene is great to combat a dreary day outside.

Create a Book

Keep an assortment of blank books and encourage your child to illustrate his own story with crayons or colored pencils. You can fill in the words to accompany the pictures as your child dictates his tale to you.

Make an Indoor Bowling Alley

Save up toilet paper rolls and arrange them at one end of the hall like bowling pins. "Ball up" a few socks and let your child throw them at the "pins."

Living Room Ice Skating

Wrap sheets of wax paper around your little one's feet (keep them attached with rubber bands), put on some music and let her have fun gliding across the carpet!

Make Sock Puppets

Rummage through your drawers for orphan socks and use yarn and buttons to create colorful creations — you do the sewing, but let your child pick the eyes and color of yarn for other features. Then, have fun putting together a wacky sock puppet show together! Discover seven DIY sock puppets.

Musical Glasses

Fill glasses with different amounts of water and let your child lightly tap them with a spoon to discover the different sounds each glass makes. Try simple, familiar tunes like "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or encourage your child to make up his own melody.

Bake!

What better way to beat the blues of a cold, rainy day than to heat up the kitchen with a favorite cookie recipe! Let your child help mix the cookie dough ingredients and help drop batter from a spoon. Don't forget the hot chocolate and perhaps a kid-friendly movie to watch together after the sweet treats are out of the oven. Discover the best family movies on Netflix right now.

 

CORONAVIRUS SAFETY MEASURES

• Wash your hands for 20 seconds before eating; after using the restroom; before sleep.

• Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

• If a bath before bedtime isn't part of your child's evening routine, at least make sure he washes his hands before going to bed. Children tend to rub their eyes while sleeping.

• Get plenty of sleep.

• Protect your immune system by staying away from people who are coughing.

• Don't share utensils, water bottles, drinking glasses