It’s important to reassure children, to ask whether they have questions and to stress safety, said Dr. Jamie Howard, a clinical psychologist at the nonprofit Child Mind Institute. The institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both offer tips on talking to children.

Parents should explain that measures like wearing face masks and closing schools are preventative and temporary, Howard said. She urged them to take a page from Mister Rogers, who taught kids to “focus on the helpers” — what doctors, teachers, parents and scientists are doing to keep them safe.