[Opinion column written by Cole Simons]
As parents, grandparents, and students, we must work collectively to ensure that we have a positive outcome during these challenging times. We all must make a contribution to ensure that the delivery of education remains as seamless as possible and that our students are positioned to continue to excel in education.
In light of this, I would like to share with our families the recommendations that were presented by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] which are very positive, and which can be used to support our families and our school aged children during this coronavirus pandemic.
Stay in touch with your child’s school.
- Many of our schools are offering lessons online [virtual learning]. Please review assignments from the school, and help your children establish a reasonable pace for completing the work. You may need to assist your child with turning on devices, reading instructions, and typing answers.
- Communicate challenges to your school. If you face technology or connectivity issues, or if your child is having a hard time completing assignments, let the school know.
Create a schedule and routine for learning at home but remain flexible.
- Have consistent bedtimes and get up at the same time, Monday through Friday.
- Structure the day for learning, free time, healthy meals and snacks, and physical activity.
- Allow flexibility in the schedule — it’s okay to adapt based on your day.
Consider the needs and adjustment required for your child’s age group.
- The transition to being at home will be different depending on age. Talk to your child about expectations and how they are adjusting to being at home versus at school.
- Consider ways your child can stay connected with their friends without spending time in person.
Look for ways to make learning fun.
- Have hands-on activities, like puzzles, painting, drawing, and making things.
- Independent play can also be used in place of structured learning. Encourage children to build a fort from sheets or practice counting by stacking blocks.
- Practice handwriting and grammar by writing letters to family members. This is a great way to connect and limit face-to-face contact.
- Start a journal with your child to document this time and discuss the shared experience.
- Use audiobooks or see if your local library is hosting virtual or live-streamed reading events.
Keep children healthy:
1. Watch your child for any signs of illness.
- If you see any sign of illness consistent with symptoms of Covid-19, particularly fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call your healthcare provider and keep your child at home and away from others as much as possible.
2. Watch for signs of stress in your child.
- Some common changes to watch for include excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, and difficulty with attention and concentration. For more information, see the “For Parents” section on CDC’s website.
- Take time to talk with your child or teen about the Covid-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about Covid-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
- Go to CDC’s Helping Children Cope with Emergencies or Talking with Children About Covid-19 for more information.
3. Teach and reinforce everyday preventive actions.
- Parents and caretakers play an important role in teaching children to wash their hands. Explain that hand washing can keep them healthy and stop the virus from spreading to others.
- Be a good role model—if you wash your hands often, they’re more likely to do the same.
4. Help your child stay active.
- Encourage your child to play outdoors — it’s great for physical and mental health. Take a walk with your child or go on a bike ride. But always practice social distancing.
- Use indoor activity breaks [e.g., stretch breaks, dance breaks] throughout the day to help your child stay healthy and focused.
5. Help your child stay socially connected.
- Reach out to friends and family via phone or video chats.
- Write cards or letters to family members they may not be able to visit.
Limit time with older adults, relatives, and people with serious underlying medical conditions
Older adults and people who have serious underlying medical conditions are at highest risk of getting sick from COVID-19.
- If others in your home are at particularly high risk, consider extra precautions to separate your child from those people.
- If you are unable to stay home with your child during school dismissals, carefully consider who might be best positioned to provide childcare. If someone at higher risk for COVID-19 will be providing care [older adult, such as a grandparent or someone with a chronic medical condition], limit your children’s contact with other people.
- Consider postponing visits or trip to see older family members and grandparents. Connect virtually or by writing letters and sending via mail.
We must follow Government guidelines and we must wash our hands, practice social distancing and obey self-quarantining. We have to limit any spread of this virus.
– Cole Simons