Getting Ready for School
Children often look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful situations by either asking questions or picking up on various cues from their parents.
As a result, adults need to respond in a way that allows school-aged children to talk about their concerns to provide some sense of control to avoid panic and help reduce anxiety.
The National Association of School Psychologists and the National Association of School Nurses offers the following tips (see next page) for families in helping their children to deal with uncertainty under the COVID-19 pandemic.
LISTEN & OFFER REASSURANCE
Children mimic the responses from the adults in their life. Reminding them that your family is healthy and that you are doing everything possible to stay safe can be reassuring. Offer to explain unfamiliar terms like social distancing and how it means staying a safe distance from others to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Encourage them to verbalize their thoughts and feelings.
FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE
Celebrate having more time together. Work on family projects, connect with nature, get some exercise. Work on breathing exercises, a valuable tool for calming nerves. Offer love and affection.
MAINTAIN A DAILY ROUTINE
A regular schedule provides a sense of control, predictability, calm, and well-being. Monitor and set a schedule for watching television, browsing the internet and using social media. Remember that a sense of control reduces fear. Children will feel empowered if they can control some aspects of their life.
STAY CONNECTED TO SCHOOL
Be sure your information with the District is current. It will be used to send important updates home. Updates will also be posted to the District website (Midlakes.org), social media accounts (follow @MidlakesSchools on Facebook and Twitter) and shared with local media sources. Have your school’s contact and teacher information readily available and connect with staff regarding any concerns. Identify additional school resources as transportation, food service, and technology help.
KNOW THE SYMPTOMS
According to the CDC, symptoms of fever or chills (100°F or greater), cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting; and/or diarrhea appear with 14 days after being exposed to the disease.
PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE DAILY
Encourage your child to wash hands multiple times a day for 20 seconds. Signing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or “Happy Birthday” twice is about 20 seconds. Have them wear a mask while watching a movie or playing video games to get them used to longer periods of mask wearing. Model proper mask wearing, social distancing, and coughing into the arm or elbow. Stay home if feeling ill. Develop a plan if a child needs to stay home.
USE AGE-APPROPRIATE EXPLANATIONS
Early elementary school children: Provide brief, simple information that balances COVID-19 facts with appropriate reassurances that adults are there to help keep them healthy and to take care of them if they do get sick. Give simple examples of the steps people make every day to stop germs and stay healthy, such as washing hands. Use language such as "adults are working hard to keep you safe."
Upper elementary and early middle school children. This age group often is more vocal in asking questions regarding safety. They may need assistance separating reality from rumor. Discuss the efforts national, state, and community leaders are doing to prevent germs from spreading.
Upper middle and high school students. Issues can be discussed in more depth. Refer them to appropriate sources of COVID-19 facts. Provide honest, accurate, and factual information about the current status of COVID-19. Engage them in decision-making about family plans, scheduling, and helping with chores at home.
Most children will manage well with the support of parents and other family members, even if showing signs of some anxiety or concerns. Some children may have risk factors for more intense reactions, including prior traumatic experiences and family instability. Signs of distress may include:
Preschoolers: Thumb sucking, bedwetting, clinging to parents, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, fear of the dark, regression in behavior, and withdrawal.
Elementary school children: Irritability, aggressiveness, clinginess, nightmares, school avoidance, poor concentration, and withdrawal from activities and friends.
Adolescents: Seeping and eating disturbances, agitation, increase in conflicts, physical complaints, delinquent behavior, and poor concentration.
The following information was compiled from resources collected by the National Association of School Psychologists and the National Association of School Nurses. For more information, go to https://www.nasponline.org/COVID19
MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT
Free emotional support, consultations and provider referrals are available by calling the New York State’s hotline at (844) 863-9314 and headspace.com/ny for free meditation and mindfulness resources.
Health & Safety Tips
Keeping students and staff stay as school reopens is the top priority of the school district. To help, Midlakes schools has launched an online resource page of various health and safety tips and advice from public health agencies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Know the Symptoms: Those with COVID-19 have experienced a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness, according to the CDC. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
This list does not include all possible symptoms and symptoms can change. For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Symptoms webpage.
Protect Yourself & Others
The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus, which is believed to be spread primarily through close contact with an infected individual. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following actions to help prevent the spread.
Hand washing: Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap is not available. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until dry. Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. It is important to wash:
- Before eating or preparing food
- Before touching your face
- After using the restroom
- After leaving a public place
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After handling your mask
- After changing a diaper
- After caring for someone sick
- After touching animals or pets
Social Distancing: Limiting close face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), according to the CDC. The Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District will adhere to social distancing guidelines as much as feasibly possible within our classrooms and buildings throughout the day. Staff trainings, signs and other reminders will help staff and students maintain a safe distance.
Face Masks: The CDC recommends face masks be worn by children 2 years and older in public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District will require students to wear masks while attending in-person classes, with the exception of those with a medical condition. Face masks can be made of reusable fabric or can be the disposable paper mask. Face shields are not recommended as a substitute.
- How to Wear a Face Mask
- Wash your hands before putting on a mask.
- Put it over the nose and mouth and secure it under the chin.
- Fit it snuggly against the sides of your face.
- Make sure you can breathe easily.
- Don’t put the mask around your neck, on your forehead or take it off and repeatedly.
- Taking off a Face Mask
- Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops.
- Handle only by the ear looks or ties.
- Place mask in washing machine, if reuseable. (Washing recommendations)
- Be careful not to touch eyes, nose or mouth when removing. Wash hands immediately after removing.
Always Cover Coughs and Sneezes: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit. Be sure to throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Monitor Your Health Daily: Be alert for the symptoms of COVID-19. Take your temperature if symptoms develop. Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen. Follow CDC guidelines when symptoms develop.