By Paul Stein, Executive Director
The rapidly evolving circumstances surrounding the spread of the COVID-19 virus has dominated the news, filled our inboxes, and consumed our conversations. I want to use this forum for two purposes:
- First to assure our families that the health of our students is at the forefront of our minds.
- Second, we want to help caregivers think about ways to talk to their children about the swirling events which surround us all.
Monitoring: Each of our schools is closely monitoring the information that is being shared by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, as well as the local and statewide Departments of Public Health. (These, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are excellent go-to organizations for information.)
Deep Cleaning: Each school has become more vigilant about cleaning the facilities thoroughly, including wiping doorknobs, light switches, countertops, tabletops and desk surfaces. Staff members remind students how to wash hands properly, as well as good habits such as not coughing or sneezing into one’s hands, avoiding touching one’s face and staying home when not feeling well.
Postponements and Cancellations: School leaders want to stay in communication with caregivers, and ask that they contact them with any concerns. On a school-by-school basis, decisions are actively being made regarding the need for canceling trips, events and school itself.
Helping Caregivers Allay Students’ Fears: No one knows what is in store. However, we do know that this pandemic has the potential for raising the anxieties of both caregivers and their children. How, then, can caregivers know how to talk to their children, especially when faced with such insecurity?
- First, one needs to be aware of the developmental stage of each child. Often, just listening closely to the nature of a young child’s question can guide us in how best to respond. The COVID-19 pandemic is not unlike any stressful event, which is why we have posted on our website “Helping Children Cope with Worrisome News,” an advisory by Mark Kline and Shannon Mackey of the Human Relations Service (Wellesley, Mass.).
- We’d also recommend a short list of resources, including the article, “Talking with your Children About Highly Stressful Events,” from the Riverside Trauma Center website.
We are all in this together and, I know, we are each committed to keeping students safe and healthy while we support caregivers through this difficult time.