Supporting Children Returning to School during Covid-19

The South African Government has announced the phasing in of learners returning to face-to-face teaching. This has caused two camps to rise: those for children returning and those against children returning to school. I am not going to choose sides, rather focus on how to support children as they go back to school.

Firstly, we need to be aware that many individuals may struggle with anxiety and fear on returning to school. We also need to realize that while children may not show signs of difficulties initially, these may arise as they are faced with new processes on entering schools and interacting with peers and teachers through physical distancing – this is going to be particularly difficult for younger children. As children get used to their new realities during Covid-19, as well as the uncertainty of it’s duration, the prolonged effect may well give rise to an increase in mental illness.

So how do we support all children as we ourselves learn to navigate the waters of our new (hopefully temporary) reality (while managing our own anxieties and fears)? How do we support children who may have, or who may be at risk of mental illness?

  1. Clinically vulnerable children should not return to school but should be supported through online learning.
  2. Children who live in homes with vulnerable individuals should only attend school if strict hygiene and physical distancing is practiced. The child needs to be old enough to be able to understand these practices and be able to carry them out.
  3. Age-appropriate education around Covid-19 is important. This should be implemented in the home as well as the school environment.
  4. Children should be taught good hand hygiene practices at home before returning to school.
  5. Educate children about physical distancing and physical contact and the spread of Covid-19.
  6. Teach children to wear masks independently where a child is able to put on or remove a mask without assistance. For young children, a face mask may be considered – the use of these should also be practiced prior to going back to school.
  7. Talk to children about their thoughts and feelings around returning to school. Normalize their feelings and offer support.
  8. Explain the changes they can expect on returning to school (most schools are providing parents with the procedures that will be implemented).
  9. Keep having conversations with children about their experiences and feelings as the days and weeks after returning to school progress.
  10. Good communication with your child’s teacher is key.

Pro-Bono Online Support for Healthcare Workers

During this most unusual and stressful time, the importance of supporting mental health needs to be highlighted. Even more so for our critical care healthcare workers who are placed at the front line in fighting this pandemic and cannot be shielded from the reality of it. In fact, they are faced with extreme circumstances, anxiety and trauma in which they need to continue their work. They are also often faced with being isolated from their families and their support structures.

In light of this, I am offering pro-bono online sessions to Critical Healthcare workers in South Africa during the lock down period.

Please contact me on 076 562 8271 or megan@edpsychologist.co.za.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

With an International Pandemic and many countries, including South Africa, putting drastic measures in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, education is key.

What is it?

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.  Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face.

The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).

At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings become available. (Accessed Online: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1)

Symptoms

The COVID-19 virus affects different people in different ways.  COVID-19 is a respiratory disease and most infected people will develop mild to moderate symptoms and recover without requiring special treatment.  People who have underlying medical conditions and those over 60 years old have a higher risk of developing severe disease and death.

Common symptoms include:

  • fever
  • tiredness
  • dry cough.

Other symptoms include:

  • shortness of breath
  • aches and pains
  • sore throat
  • and very few people will report diarrhoea, nausea or a runny nose.

People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should self-isolate and contact their medical provider or a COVID-19 information line for advice on testing and referral.

People with fever, cough or difficulty breathing should call their doctor and seek medical attention. (Accessed Online: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_3)