How you can avoid misinformation about the coronavirus

Tips and tricks to stay informed, organised and healthy
avoid misinformation about coronavirus
March 20, 2020
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  • During this pandemic, it’s important you pay close attention to how you’re staying informed.
  • Government sources like or the NHS, or sector organisations like the NDNA and Early Years Alliance are great authoritative sources for learning how the pandemic might affect you.
  • Avoid sourcing your news through social media and online networks — Use them to stay connected and entertained while maintaining social distance.

The coronavirus pandemic creates a particular challenge regarding how we stay informed.

This is, on a global level, a complete unknown. Yesterday’s news might not be relevant today, and it’s easy to get lost in a torrent of granular details, medical lingo and hypothesizing.

That’s why, especially now, it’s important that we avoid misinformation.

Finding and sharing articles about the coronavirus makes us feel responsible, informed, maybe a little bit safer. The problem is, not all articles are created equal.  

Sorting through the noise

Sophie Haylock, the director of Early Years HR and the owner of a day nursery in Surrey, England, has spent a lot of her time this week debunking misconceptions about the virus and the government’s response.

“What I’m seeing, with absolutely good intentions, is a lot of misinformation being put out there. It could be yesterday’s information, it could be people giving their own interpretations of the news, it could be a misleading source,” Sophie says. “Honestly, your Facebook news feed is not the place to find out what you should be paying your staff right now.”

The big ideas

As you’re reading online about the coronavirus and its impacts, here are some important questions to ask yourself.

  • When was this written? This situation is unfolding day-by-day, and the morning papers might be outdated by the time you go to sleep. Check when any article was published or most recently updated, and understand that information can very quickly become outdated right now.
  • How many opinions went into this? Every writer’s got their own opinions, and some might wind up in their writing. Look to government sources such as or the NHS for the latest, undiluted information.
    Sector organisations like the NDNA, Early Years Alliance and PACEY should be your go-to for what all this means for the early years.
    If you need help understanding the latest news, take a look at a major newspaper such as the Guardian or Telegraph — but keep in mind that every time the facts get digested and reproduced, we risk errors and misunderstandings.
  • Why am I reading this? Are you staying informed on the latest, are you getting emotional support, or are you just getting all worked up? It’s easy to become overexposed to the endless supply of corona coverage.Once you learn what you need to know, take a break. Go for a walk, make a cup of tea, or watch this video of baby raccoons playing on a swing set. It sure helped me.

Official sources for official business

If you’re looking for the latest, most authoritative information on how the coronavirus will affect your setting, look to government sources. The official website as well as the NHS both have set up dedicated coronavirus information portals, where you can find both general guides for planning your response, as well as news briefs as events unfold.

Again, be sure to check when an article was published or last updated.

  • Here’s the general portal for protecting yourself and seeking medical advice, updates on the spread of the disease, and information for employers, businesses and teachers.
  • Here’s the page specifically addressing how the government is providing support for businesses, and how you can get help during this time.
  • Here’s the news feed for all the latest press releases, sorted by how recently they’ve been published. You can use this for a general look into all public government responses to the pandemic.
  • Here is the NHS’ dedicated covid-19 page for how you can protect yourself and those around you against the virus, and what to do in terms of medical and safety precautions.

Personal networks for personal support

As we all deal with the strange new reality of social distancing, we’ve got to find ways to keep in touch. Luckily, we’ve got the internet for that. And if you’re reading this, you’ve already sorted out how to use it. Great work!

FaceTime your friends, Skype your dear aunt, arrange a book club or happy hour via a Facebook group. These informal, personal networks are critical for our own well-being, and for staying connected during these strange times.

The trouble is, you’re also going to come across a lot of misinformation on social media. Again, think of the source of any information you’re reading — If you’re seeing it first in a Facebook comment, take it with a grain of salt.

If you’re confused and are reaching out to friends on Facebook for business advice, be very careful. Keep in mind that everyone’s just about as confused as you are right now — and nobody, as far as business is concerned, is in the exact same position. Different settings might have different amounts of government funding, different insurance, different cash reserves, different contingency plans. Without knowing the full picture, you can’t assume that their advice is going to work for you too.

For now, it’s best you stick to social networks for their social benefits — not as news aggregators or business think tanks. Last week, the Atlantic put out a great article with some ideas on how you can use the internet to keep company while social distancing.

download pdf
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Official Danish Government Reopening Advice

Guidance from the Danish Health Ministry, translated in full to English.

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UK Nursery Covid-19 Response Group Recommendations

The full recommendations from a working group of over 70 nursery chains in the UK.

Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

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