Sending your kid off to school with a pack of Valentine's Day cards for the class is part of a longtime tradition (along with receiving a mountain of candy). But this isn't a typical year. So should you pass out Valentine's Day cards this year for your kid's class, or is it better to skip the ritual altogether? Here's what experts have to say about the safety of swapping cards, as some schools are handling the card tradition a bit differently this year.
Can you get coronavirus from Valentine's Day cards?
First of all, are Valentine's Day cards likely to transmit the coronavirus? "While we know that the virus can live on surfaces anywhere from hours to days, we know that most transmission is through direct person to person contact and aerosol transmission," Dr. Kathleen Jordan, SVP of Medical Affairs at women’s health provider, Tia, tells Romper via email. "Transmission through surfaces is possible if you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your eyes or mouth, though less likely than with in person encounters." Exactly how long the virus can stick around on certain surfaces, including a paper or cardboard card, is not that easy to predict, however. "The length of time a virus can survive on a surface is dependent on the amount of respiratory droplets or saliva on the surface and the temperature of the environment," Dr. Javeed Siddiqui MD, MPH, tells Romper. "For example, if a person coughs or sneezes on a paper surface, while the secretions are wet, the virus is transmissible." Once dry, the likelihood of transmission goes down, as Dr. Siddiqui further explains.
How can your kid share Valentine's Day cards in a safer way?
If your kid's school is allowing students to exchange Valentine's Day cards this year, then here are some safer ways to share them. Wiping the envelope with a disinfectant, then allowing it to dry, is one option, as Dr. Siddiqui explains. (Just make sure the disinfectant doesn't damage the card's ink or other decorations.) Following the typical COVID-19 safety precautions can help, too. "Valentine’s day cards exchanges could be done safely by optimizing current infection control measures such as social distancing, masking and podding — which we have seen used successfully at schools," says Dr. Jordan. In addition, it's possible to let the cards go through their own type of quarantine. "You may also want to use a receptacle to drop the cards into, versus sharing cards hand-to-hand, with the receptacle given a short time to quarantine before opening the cards," says Dr. Jordan. Setting aside the cards for a few hours or even days will give potential virus secretions time to dry out. It's an extra step, sure, but a card quarantine can help make sure your kid's classroom enjoys a safer Valentine's Day celebration for 2021.
Dr. Kathleen Jordan, SVP Medical Affairs at women’s health provider, Tia
Dr. Javeed Siddiqui MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer at TeleMed2U