COVID-19 Guide

covid 19 Guide for des moines kids and parents

COVID-19 Guide for Des Moines Kids and Parents

At dsm4kids, our purpose has always been to help local families find fun ways to connect and grow together. Due to the impact of COVID-19 many families are shifting from “let’s go!” to “let’s stay in.” We’ve gathered up some fun stay-at-home activities, outdoor activities and simple meal ideas from the website.  We also rounded up a few resources to assist families in need and how to talk to your kids about the pandemic.

We’ll be updating information here regularly, so please check back often.

Important information & helpful links about the spread of COVID-19, including resources for talking to kids about COVID-19:

Iowa Department of Public Health
Polk County Health Department – COVID 19 Information
CDC Household Preparation Guide
CDC’s Advice on Travel Within the US
United Way 211 Central Iowa Website
Global Information from the World Health Organization
Kid-friendly video explaining viruses and the new coronavirus.
NPR’s – Just For Kids: A Comic Exploring The New Coronavirus
PBS – How to Talk to Your Kids About Coronavirus

Prevention Tips

Adapted from: – “Social Distancing: This is Not a Snow Day” by Ariadne Labs

1. We need to push our local, state, and national leaders for a statewide, nationwide approach.

A local, town by town response won’t have the adequate needed effect. We need a statewide, nationwide approach in these trying times. Contact your representative and your governor to urge them to enact statewide closures and maintain them as long as needed. Also urge leaders to increase funds for emergency preparedness and make widening coronavirus testing capacity an immediate and top priority. We also need legislators to enact better paid sick leave and unemployment benefits to help nudge people to make the right call to stay at home right now.

2. No kid playdates, parties, sleepovers, or families/friends visiting each other’s houses and apartments.

This sounds extreme because it is. We are trying to create distance between family units and between individuals. It may be particularly uncomfortable for families with small children, kids with differential abilities or challenges, and for kids who simply love to play with their friends. But even if you choose only one friend to have over, you are creating new links and possibilities for the type of transmission that all of our school/work/public event closures are trying to prevent. The symptoms of coronavirus take 1-14 days, most commonly around five days to manifest themselves. Someone who comes over looking well can transmit the virus.

We have already taken extreme social measures to address this serious disease — let’s not actively co-opt our efforts by having high levels of social interaction at people’s houses instead of at schools or workplaces. Again — the wisdom of early and aggressive social distancing is that it can flatten the curve above, give our health system a chance to not be overwhelmed, and eventually may reduce the length and need for longer periods of extreme social distancing later (see what has transpired in Italy and Wuhan). We need to all do our part during these times, even if it means some discomfort for a while.

3. Take care of yourself and your family, but maintain social distance.

Exercise, take walks/runs outside, and stay connected through phone, video, and other social media. But when you go outside, do your best to maintain at least six feet between you and non-family members. If you have kids, try not to use public facilities like playground structures, as coronavirus can live on plastic and metal for up to nine days, and these structures aren’t getting regularly cleaned.

Going outside will be important during these strange times, and the weather is improving. Go outside every day if you are able, but stay physically away from people outside your family or roommates. If you have kids, try playing a family soccer game instead of having your kids play with other kids, since sports often mean direct physical contact with others. And though we may wish to visit elders in our community in person, I would not visit nursing homes or other areas where large numbers of the elderly reside, as they are at highest risk for complications and mortality from coronavirus.

Social distancing can take a toll (after all, most of us are social creatures). The CDC offers tips and resources to reduce this burden, and other resources offer strategies to cope with the added stress during this time.

We need to find alternate ways to reduce social isolation within our communities through virtual means instead of in-person visits.

4. Reduce the frequency of going to stores, restaurants, and coffee shops for social distancing purposes, but know our food supply is safe.

Of course trips to the grocery store will be necessary, but try to limit them and go at times when they are less busy. Consider asking grocery stores to queue people at the door in order to limit the number of people inside a store at any one time. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly before and after your trip. And leave the medical masks and gloves for the medical professionals — we need them to care for those who are sick. Maintain distance from others while shopping — and remember that hoarding supplies negatively impacts others so buy what you need and leave some for everyone else.

According to the CDC

“Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety. Throughout the day wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.”

PSA Safe Grocery Shopping in COVID-19 Pandemic by Dr. Jeffreay VanWingen.  The video also reviews how to handle takeout food from a restaurant.

5. If you are sick, isolate yourself, stay home, and contact a medical professional.

If you are sick, you should try to isolate yourself from the rest of your family within your residence as best as you can. If you have questions about whether you qualify or should get a coronavirus test, you should cal 2-1-1 in Central Iowa, call your primary care team and/or consider calling Iowa Department of Public Health. Don’t just walk into a clinic or emergency room — call first so that they can give you the best advice — which might be to go to a drive-through testing center or a virtual visit on video or phone. Of course, if it is an emergency call 911.

Current Closings & Event Cancellations, as well as, Adjusted Store Hours in the Des Moines Area:

Governor Reynolds declared a “State of Public Health Disaster Emergency” on March 17th, which has been updated on March 22nd, 26th and April 2nd. This declaration means the following facilities are closed until April 30th, with the noted exceptions:

• Restaurants and Bars — Carry-out, drive-through and delivery services of food and beverage can be continued
•Fitness Centers
•Casinos and Gaming Facilities
•Gatherings of more than 10 people — Social, community, spiritual, religious, recreational, leisure and sporting gatherings
•Senior Citizen and Adult Daycare Facilities
Medical spas
Tattoo establishments
Tanning facilities
Massage therapy establishments
Swimming pools
Book Stores
Clothing and Shoe Stores
Jewelry Stores
Luggage Stores
Cosmetic, perfume and beauty supply stores
Furniture Stores
Home Furnishing Stores

Des Moines

DMARC – Operations continue. They are coordinating with their partner food pantries and Mobile Food Pantry locations to plan for alternative food distribution methods that limit mass gathering. They have cancelled large volunteer groups, hunger simulations, and other gatherings with groups of people. They are asking donors to donate funds online rather than donating in-kind items that require volunteer labor to process.

Food Bank of Iowa – Food Bank of Iowa operations are continuing uninterrupted as need grows. And, they are still in need of donations and volunteers.

Des Moines Parks and Recreation –  Des Moines Parks and Recreation indoor facilities and events are cancelled through May 11.  They’ve also closed all playgrounds.

Des Moines Public Library – All DMPL locations are closed until further notice.

Blank Park Zoo – Closed through April 30.

Des Moines Art Center – The Art Center will be closed to the public until April 30. Stay tuned to their website and social media channels for further updates and opportunities to engage with the Art Center online.

Des Moines Performing Arts – DMPA is postponing all events through May 3, 2020. Individuals holding tickets to affected performances should maintain their current tickets. DMPA’s Ticket Office will be in touch with Ticket Holders (who purchased directly from DMPA) as details become available with further information.

Des Moines Playhouse – The Playhouse will be closed through at least April 30th and all scheduled activities are cancelled.

Des Moines Symphony – The Des Moines Symphony is postponing all concerts and events through May 3rd.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden – The Botanical Garden is canceling or postponing all classes and programs through April 30.

Iowa Events Center – The Iowa Events Center offices are closed until further notice. They are currently working with each event planner and promoter to determine the status of their event and/or reschedule meetings, conferences, and live event performances that fall between the Governor’s recommended mass gathering restrictions. For the latest news on their event schedule, visit their website.

Merle Hay Mall – Until further notice and effective March 17th, 2020, Merle Hay Mall hours are: Monday through Saturday, 12:00 noon to 7:00 pm and Sunday, 12:00 noon to 5:30 pm. Stores with outside entrances may be open alternative hours, however, their mall gate is closed before or after the hours posted above.  The Play Area is closed and food court restaurants are offering to go and delivery options.

Science Center of Iowa – The Science Center of Iowa will temporarily close to the public starting Monday, March 16, at 10:00 am, through April 30. All events and programming during this period also are cancelled.

Polk County Conservation – The Jester Park Nature Center and Jester Park Outdoor Recreation & Wellness Center’s are closed to the public.  The majority of  public programming and all camps (including Jester Park Equestrian Center camps) are cancelled. While the building doors may be closed, Polk County parks and trails will remain open.

YMCA of Greater Des Moines – All facilities are closed through April 30. All group fitness classes and personal training sessions; youth programming; and Learn & Play are suspended or closed until further notice.

Iowa Wild – Season suspended until further notice.

Iowa Wolves – Season suspended until further notice.

Iowa Cubs – Delayed start to the beginning of the 2020 season.

Iowa Barnstormers – Delayed start to the beginning of the 2020 season.


Ankeny Parks and Recreation – Ankeny parks and trails are currently open to the public for recreation but due to COVID-19, effective immediately, playground equipment and shelter houses are closed until further notice. All park restrooms remain closed and water fountains are turned off. The Skate Park is closed. The Dog Park, along with the tennis, pickleball and basketball courts will remain open at this time. Team sports, pickup games and contact play are prohibited.

Kirkendall Public Library – All library events and programs are cancelled immediately until further notice. This includes all events and programs for children, teens, and adults. The Ankeny Kirkendall Public Library will be closed until further notice.


Altoona Parks & Recreation – To help prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus, the City of Altoona is closing all playground equipment effective immediately. Please refrain from using this equipment until further notice. City parks will remain open, but ask that visitors practice social distancing.

Altoona Public Library – As of March 16, all programs are cancelled or postponed for 30 days, programming will resume April 30th.

Adventureland – Adventureland Resort continues to monitor the state and national health and safety directives from the Federal Government and the State of Iowa, in regard to COVID-19. In the best interest of our guests, team members and communities, we have delayed our opening to Saturday, May 16th, 2020. As this situation evolves, any further opening or operation calendar changes for the 2020 season will be updated both on Facebook and on our website.

Bass Pro Shops – They are open their regular store hours. They will open at 8:00 am on weekdays for older customers to access essential products before the general public.

Outlets of Des Moines – In accordance with guidelines issued by Governor Reynolds, Outlets of Des Moines will close beginning on Thursday, March 26 at 7:00 pm.  They will reopen as soon as the present ban has been lifted.


Clive Parks & Recreation – All Clive parks–including the Clive Greenbelt–are open, due to COVID-19 concerns, City of Clive Parks’ restrooms and playground equipment are closed until further notice. All Clive recreation events from March 16 through April 30 are canceled or postponed.  Some activities will be offered online.

Clive Public Library – The Clive Public Library will be closed to all in-person visits from March 18 through at least April 30. All phone and online resources will continue to be available to patrons.  All due dates and fines for physical materials will not be enforced through at least April 12. All library events from March 18 through at least April 12 are canceled or postponed. Some activities may be offered online.


Climb Iowa – Climb Iowa has closed both gyms and has cancelled all classes and events through April 30.

Grimes Parks and Recreation – Indoor facilities and public playgrounds are closed through April 30.

Grimes Public Library – The Grimes Public Library is closed until further notice.


Johnston Parks & Recreation – Public playgrounds in all Johnston City parks are closed effective immediately, until further notice.

Johnston Public Library – The library’s computers, study rooms, and all other public areas will be closed until further notice. Meetings and programs have been cancelled.


Urbandale Parks & Recreation – All Parks & Recreation programs, classes, lessons, and events at all facilities have been suspended through Sunday, April 30.  The Senior Recreation Center, Indoor Public Pool, Lions Park Shelter, and Giovannetti Community Shelter are closed through Sunday, April 30. Urbandale’s parks and trails are currently open to the public for recreation but due to COVID-19 our playground equipment and shelter houses are closed until further notice. All park restrooms and water fountains remain closed and turned off. Tennis, pickleball, and basketball courts will remain open, however, team sports, pickup games, and contact play are prohibited.

Urbandale Public Library –The Urbandale Public Libary is closed until at least April 30. They have extended the due dates on all items to April 30. Please do not return materials until we have re-opened. No library fines will accrue while the library is closed.

Living History FarmsAll events and programming is cancelled or postponed  through April 30.


Waukee Parks & Recreation – Waukee parks and trails are currently open to the public for recreation but due to COVID-19 concerns, effective immediately, playground equipment and shelter houses are closed until further notice. All park restrooms remain closed and water fountains are turned off. The Trailside Dog Park, along with the tennis, pickleball and basketball courts will remain open at this time. Team sports, pickup games and contact play are prohibited.

Waukee Public Library – The Waukee Public Library is closed  until further notice.

Dallas County Conservation – The Dallas County Conservation Board is cancelling all public and school programing until further notice as a response to the COVID-19 virus. Additionally, all DCCB buildings and restrooms will be closed to public access effective now through July 1, 2020, or until further notice.

West Des Moines

West Des Moines Parks and Recreation – West Des Moines parks and trails are currently open to the public for recreation but due to COVID-19 concerns, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT AND PICNIC SHELTERS ARE CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. All park restrooms remain closed and drinking fountains are turned off. The Raccoon River Park Dog Park and Archery Facility, along with tennis and basketball courts will remain open at this time. Team sports, pickup games and contact play are prohibited.

West Des Moines Public Library – Effective 1 pm on Monday, March 16, the West Des Moines Public Library will be CLOSED to the public until April 30 in consideration of the safety of their patrons, staff and community.

Jordan Creek Towncenter– The Governor’s March 26, 2020 Proclamation of Disaster Emergency (“the Order”) ordered that as of 10:00 p.m. on March 26, 2020, all non-essential retail establishments shall temporarily cease operations.  We anticipate that the Mall’s food-use tenants may continue to operate for carryout and delivery service, but seating in the food court will not be permitted.  Public access to interior-Mall businesses, which can operate under the Order, will be permitted.  We expect all Jordan Creek Town Center tenants to comply.  The Mall Walker Program is suspended until further notice.

Smash Park – As of March 15, Smash Park has decided to suspend business until further notice in light of COVID-19.

Valley West Mall – At this time most of the Valley West Mall stores are closed. Stores that identify themselves as essential will be allowed to operate with the following hours: Monday through Sunday 12:00 noon to 6:00 pm. Visit their website for a full list of store closings. All restaurant and food service is take out only. No food court seating is available. The Play Area and Easter Set and Train are closed.


Stephens Auditorium –  All events at Stephens Auditorium, Fisher Theater and the Scheman Building have been postponed or cancelled through April 30.

Multiple Cities

Fareway – Fareway is open to the general public from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm Monday through Saturday. From 8:00 am to 9:00 am they will be open for those 65 and older or with increased susceptibility to serious illness and expectant mothers.

Hy-Vee StoresHy-Vee’s new store hours will be 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, seven days a week. Also, 7:00 am to 8:00 am, seven days a week is reserved for customers ages 60 and older; expectant mothers and anyone with an underlying health condition(s) that makes them more susceptible to serious illness.  During this very unusual time, Hy-Vee is asking customers who are able to do so to shop in stores so that the available Hy-Vee Aisles Online timeslots can be used for those who are unable to shop for themselves or have been advised by health care professionals to limit their public exposure.

Things To Do at Home

Celebrating Kids’ Birthdays While Maintaining Social Distancing
Spring 2020: A Few Fun Ways to Celebrate Easter at Home This Year in Des Moines
Keep Connecting During Self Quarantine
On-Line Resources to Keep Kids Learning During the Coronavirus School Break
Activities to Keep the Kids Busy at Home During the Coronavirus School Break
Book Nook: Summer Read Aloud Books 4 Kids
5 Fun Indoor Activities to Get You Through Winter Break
100 Summer Boredom Busters 4 Kids
Fight the Summer Brain Drain in Des Moines
Go Go Yoga for Kids: Yoga Lessons for Children
25 Rainy Day Boredom Busters
Family Activity to Increase Gratitude & Positivity
How to Survive Winter with Little Ones

Outdoor Activities

Safe Outdoor Activities for Kids During COVID-19
Go Fly a Kite Des Moines!
Nature’s Beauty on Display at 12 Central Iowa Gardens
Geocaching in Des Moines
10 Outdoor Games 4 Kids in Des Moines
Explore Nature with Kids in Central Iowa
Go on a Family Bike Ride in Des Moines
Go On an Outdoor Scavenger Hunt this Fall with Your Kids
Des Moines Kids Are Wild About Pokémon Go
9 Parks 4 a Spring Walk in Des Moines

Easy Meal Prep Ideas

What We Ate for Dinner Last Week: March 22-28, 2020
What We Ate for Dinner Last Week: March 15-21, 2020
10 Grab and Go Snacks 4 Kids
5 EASY Week Night Family Meals
Celebrate Cinco De Mayo with a Taco Twist
9 Healthy School Snack Ideas
A Hearty Beef Stew for a Cold Winter’s Night
Pre-Trick-or-Treating Chili

Healthy Habits & Life Skills for Kids and Support Organizations for Families

5 Ways to Support Des Moines Area Small Businesses While Stuck at Home
When Are Kids Old Enough To Stay Home Alone?
To Do & Done: Chores 4 Kids at Various Ages
Charities That Help Kids and Families in Des Moines
Homeless Kids & Families in Des Moines