4 tips for writing the ‘We have COVID’ email or text :: WRAL.com

– Hi Nurtured Nesters,

I write to you from quarantine, having just hammered out the last “We have COVID” email – this one to my son’s preschool director. Blerg.

When we got positive COVID tests in our house, I knew those heads-up emails were critical to writing. But that does not mean they were not also super cringey to write. And surprisingly hard! My professional writer’s brain struggled with the tone, and I doubted every last word, even as I hit “Send.”

I’m guessing the anxiety around these emails and tests is pretty universal right now, especially for those of us with young kids. So I whipped you up a quick “how to” guide – from one parent to another.

Take my advice with a grain of salt: everybody’s health situation is different, and COVID etiquette expectations vary from place to place. But I hope it will at least give you a jumping off point to write these important emails and texts with grace and grit.

Why the “We have COVID” note is so hard to write

Before we look at how to write this email or text, let’s explore why it’s such a tough writing assignment in the first place.

The first reason is obvious: The “We have COVID” note is a triple-whammy of bad news.

Someone in your house has COVID (bad news), you might have spread it to the reader (bad news), and so that reader will now have to decide how to deal with your exposure and possibly quarantine too (more bad news). A COVID exposure is a logistical headache, especially when little kids are involved.

The second reason is more insidious: The “We have COVID” note feels like a confession.

Somehow, writing this email or text feels guilty, like admitting a weakness or a lapse in judgment. This guilty feeling is crazy: as long as you’ve taken reasonable precautions to avoid catching and spreading the virus, it’s not your fault that your body is sick. But the guilt is real. And to write this email or text well, you have to navigate your way around the myth that you’re somehow “less than” for having to write it.

Positive COVID test

Why you should write the note anyway

Listen, it would definitely be easier to pretend you’re not sick. Or to downplay the reality and just report that you’ve “been exposed” – like, somehow you’re just reporting someone else’s problem.

Did I consider both of these options? Yep. Not my finest hour.

But you only have to glance at the news to remember why it’s the right time to be totally honest and vulnerable where health is concerned. Every last person alive right now is tired of this pandemic. Some people are suffering a lot. A lot of people are suffering in ways that do not show on the outside. Telling the truth is a small kindness you can do them.

Do the people in your life a kindness and be transparent with them about COVID. It’s hard. And illogically embarrassing. But you’ve got this. We’ve got this.

Ready? Let’s get to it.

COVID-19 was detected

How to write the “We have COVID” note

Before we get to the nitty-gritty of the actual note, a word of advice on method: do not send out an enormous email or text blast to everyone in your life. Also, do not post on social media and assume everyone will connect the dots.

Instead, send emails or texts to discrete groups as soon as you can, so you can get specific about the details. For example, send one email to your kid’s school; one email to your book club; one email to the soccer team; maybe a text to the neighbor who lent you an onion the other day. You get the picture.

Ok, now let’s get to the content of email or text:

  1. DO be as specific as you can about timing and potential risk. Tell the reader when someone in your house tested positive, so they can think about how that lines up with any symptoms they might notice. Be honest about any symptoms you’re noticing in yourself or your kids. You might even want to offer to answer further questions, if people have them.
  2. DO acknowledge what action you will take. If your child’s school has a policy about when they can return, let the director know you’ve read it and will abide by it. If you know you need to skip soccer next week, mention that to the team. At the very least, note that you’ll be quarantining, watching, and testing before you get back to regularly scheduled programming. In other words, reassure people you’re on it.
  3. DO keep the tone professional. It’s hard to strike the right tone in these weird times, and it’s normal to want to deal with that weirdness by being lighthearted or goofy. (No? Just me?) But remember that this email is delivering a triple-whammy of bad news, as I noted above. So keep the tone measured and professional. Anything else just feels tone-deaf.
  4. DON’T APOLOGIZE FOR GETTING COVID. Assuming you’ve taken reasonable precautions, your sickness is not your fault. Do not perpetuate the myth that getting COVID is a sign of weakness! DO, however, apologize for having to pass along the bad news and for the hassle that you know it will cause the reader.

Fellow parents, I hope you and your family stay well. But if you find yourself having to write these tough emails, know that you’re doing a capital-G Good Thing just by writing them. Even if they’re not perfect. Even if you flub the tone. People will appreciate that you’re looking out for them – and they’ll be more likely to pass along the transparency later, if they need to.

You got this!

Susanna Klingenberg is a writer, editor, and education expert for the Nurtured Nest. You’ll find her work in WALTER, Carolina Parent, and Our State. This post was originally published on The Nurtured Nest blog. The Nurtured Nest provides parents with information they really need- check out one of their on-demand classes today.


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