GUIDANCE TO PARENTS

COVID – 19 VIRUS

Thank you for your understanding of the recent government decision to close schools and adjust holidays as a precautionary measure to protect our students. Whilst we are pleased that decisive action has been taken to control any potential risk to children and young people, we are, of course, keen to ensure learning continues as best it can. We are also keen to ensure our students’ well-being is preserved. This guidance sheet is supported by reliable sources such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)in USA. It is NOT a definitive guide but based on information currently available.

 

MAINTAINING LEARNING

Our teachers will continue to plan lessons and provide distance learning opportunities.

 

Communications will also continue via Edmodo and Class Dojo.

 

KEEPING CALM and POSITIVE

We are determined to face this challenge with a positive attitude and a calm demeanor so that our students do not lose valuable learning time or feel unnecessarily alarmed. We need your support to achieve this. Please help your child maintain their learning by:

 

  • Setting up a daily learning routine and sticking to it;
  • Checking your child’s work to ensure parental interest;
  • Providing praise and encouragement;
  • Communicating with teachers about any learning related issues.

 

At the same time, please support your children’s health and well-being by:

 

  • Providing reassurance about the virus but answering questions candidly (see below;)
  • Ensuring your child understands how to wash hands fully for the length of time it takes to sing ‘happy birthday’ three times over.
  • Ensuring your child knows to cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing;
  • Limiting unnecessary travel;
  • Not traveling to restricted areas such as China, South Korea, Thailand, Iran, Hong Kong and Singapore; World Health Organization travel updates may be found here:

https://www.who.int/ith/2019-nCoV_advice_for_international_traffic-rev/en/

  • Reacting quickly to symptoms of sore throat, fever, breathlessness;

 

TALKING TO YOUR CHILD ABOUT THE VIRUS

While you might think you can protect children from the worries of the adult world, this is not practically possible, especially as children become older. The spread of the coronavirus now dominates the news and media outlets, and it is filtering into the world of children. Just as parents are understandably alarmed and worried about what is happening, so are our children.

 

LISTEN AND RESPOND SENSIBLY

Make sure to first listen carefully when your children raise worries and questions. When your daughter talks of exaggerated facts, respond calmly and ask her: “Where did you hear that from?” When your son worries about death rates, give him space to express his thoughts and feelings. For both children, you want to encourage them to talk to you and to keep communication open. You want to give them the message that you can handle their feelings and worries. You know your children best but below are some general suggestions for specific age groups.

 

Under-fives

Simply turn off the TV news when they are around, you can largely protect preschool children from bad news stories from the outside world. Unless they are directly affected by coronavirus (such as witnessing a sick parent) they may not need explanations about what is happening, and their innocence can be preserved.

 

 

Age 6-11

Once children start Elementary school, the news starts to infiltrate their world and their peer groups start talking and discussing what is happening. Once this starts, it is important you become proactive as a parent and raise issues as they confront them – at this stage the key is to use child-centred, concrete language that they easily understand. Simply tell them the facts but make sure they are the facts and not media talk.

 

Eg ‘The virus is like flu; it can be passed to other people; people who are old or unwell might get very sick; others will feel like they have flu; we must all help to stop the virus spreading; it is spread by water droplets from the nose or mouth when sneezing or coughing; using a mask does not stop the spread of the virus but washing hands does. If you feel unwell with a sore throat tell me.’

 

 

Age 12-18

Once your children start secondary school your explanations need to be more adult and scientific. Teenagers appreciate being taken seriously and being treated like adults on the same level as their parents. However, they can also be ‘dramatic’ so helping them gain perspective is important. Without diminishing the seriousness of the virus, they might be given examples such as more people worldwide die on flu than the virus. The New England Journal of Medicine states, ‘The median age of reported patients, infected is 59 years, with higher morbidity and mortality among the elderly and among those with coexisting conditions (similar to the situation with influenza); 56% of the patients are male. Of note, there are no cases in children younger than 15 years of age. Either children are less likely to become infected, or their symptoms were so mild that their infection escaped detection.’ The World Health Organization states,

Q: Are children more susceptible to the virus that causes COVID-19 compared with the general population and how can infection be prevented?

 

A: No, there is no evidence that children are more susceptible. In fact, most confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported from China and elsewhere have occurred in adults. Infections in children have been reported, including in very young children but symptoms appear to be mild.

 

Q: What can I do to reduce risk of my child becoming infected?

Answer:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you or your child is sick.
  • Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s for travel

Q: Does it help to wear a face mask?

Answer:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that people who are well, wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Simple masks do not protect against the virus.
  • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
  • The use of specialist facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

Q: Does handwashing really help?

Answer:

  • YES! Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. DO NOT REPLACE HAND WASHING WITH SANITIZER. See how to wash hands here: CDC’s Handwashing.

Q: We have a holiday planned, should we travel?

Answer:

  • CDC, WHO and other reliable organizations recommend that travelers avoid all nonessential travel.
  • Older adults and people with chronic medical conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease so should avoid travel.
  • Travelers should avoid contact with sick people and clean their hands often by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or, if handwashing is not possible, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%–95% alcohol.
  • Travelers should stay home and monitor their health during travel and for 14 days after returning home.
  • Travelers who feel sick with fever or cough or difficulty breathing should seek medical advice. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room.
  • If in doubt consult with reliable sources: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

Final Thoughts

There are currently reported 27 cases in the UAE, five of the patients have since recovered. Our country enjoys a warm climate and this virus prefers cooler conditions, our Government organizations are well-prepared, our schools are responsive, the Ministries of Education and Health know what they are doing. Parents are right to be anxious but being educated about this virus is an important step towards protecting our families. Please alert us to any travel plans and any cases of ill-health so we may support you with reliable information. Please also ensure you complete the Travel Declaration Form and return it to school, so we assist the authorities in tracking travel to restricted areas.

 

Many thanks, wishing you the best of health and happiness at this time,

 

 

Christine Simmonds and the Diyar Education Group