Some parents are concerned about school closures. Several public schools have currently suspended classes, and a few local universities have extended spring break in order to prepare students and staff for switching to online classes. Our public school districts take this issue very seriously, as the schools provide vital resources and services to many families in the community. Closures could affect children’s nutrition and wellness, as well as their educational growth. In any case, the district will keep their information up to date and contact parents and students with any changes regarding closures.
How can we discuss the virus with our children?
The National Association of School Psychologists and National Association of School Nurses offer helpful suggestions (Talking to Children About Covid-19). The important thing here is to make communication age-appropriate. High schoolers can discuss facts like adults, and they can use online statistics and tools to understand the spread of the disease and its impact on the world. I came upon a live, interactive map from Johns Hopkins that I found fascinating, and I think older kids could use it to better comprehend the current state of the virus.
Middle schoolers might ask direct questions about safety and personal concerns about themselves, their family, and their school. They may need reassurance of the tactics and efforts of the community to combat the spread of germs. Pay attention to what they are reading or seeing in the media and on social networks to be sure they are getting honest and appropriate information. They may need help discerning rumors from reality. This interesting comic from NPR does a great job of explaining the coronavirus on a child’s level.
Elementary school children need very simple information that assures them that adults are there to help keep them safe and healthy and to take care of them if they get sick. Children will react to how things are explained, an adult’s tone of voice, and parents’ conversations with others. Keep these things in mind in order to exude calmness and reassurance. Remind them of the importance of preventing the spread of germs like handwashing, covering coughs, etc. You might even want to make time with them to do an activity while you discuss the situation, like making homemade hand sanitizer or DIY antibacterial wipes. The point is to stay positive and honest so that they do not become anxious or confused.
While the implications of the coronavirus are yet to be seen, we can do what we can on an individual, family, school, and community level to keep ourselves safe right now. Panic has no benefit, especially with children around. The best we can do is stay informed, stay calm, and stay as healthy as possible, taking care of ourselves and each other.
Center for Disease Control FAQs
Texas Dept of Health and Human Services
TEA Spring Break/ Travel Guidance