As much as we want to protect our children from feeling stressed about the Coronavirus, we cannot protect them from being exposed to all the talk and discussion about it.
Walking through a grocery store with shelves empty of essential products is enough to start questions, concerns, and worry.
We cannot ignore or make light of what children feel, and therefore we should let them express what they feel. It is in how we respond that will make the difference. At school, we decided not to initiate conversations on the topic, but to answer all questions age appropriately, openly and truthfully, and to the best of our knowledge. We will endeavor to speak hope rather than doom and gloom and will guide the discussion to calm fears rather than allowing drawn-out conversations that could add to the concern. We will discuss basic hygiene with the students in the context of it being a good strategy and precaution to prevent any colds and flu, including this virus, from being transmitted. Posters in the classrooms will remind students to wash hands regularly, with soap and water, or to use hand sanitiser. Unnecessary touching of their faces will be discouraged, and the use of the elbow method encouraged when coughing or sneezing. Hopefully, this occurrence will be minimalized as we hope that sick children will not be attending school when there is a chance of them infecting fellow students.
This is the information that we will share with students if the topic came up (less detail depending on their age):
· The Coronavirus is a zoonotic virus – it started in sick animals, probably bats, and then infected humans (we won’t get it from our animals).
· There have been similar viruses before that have been dealt with successfully (we won’t say how many people died as a result- just that it was stopped from spreading).
· The strategies such as quarantine are based on experiences from before – on how to keep people safe and to prevent sick people from infecting others.
· It is like a cold but can affect your lungs in some cases (Pneumonia).
· To keep you safe: Simple hygiene is important such as washing hands and not touching your face after touching areas that could be carrying the virus.
· This is what it looks like:
See the link to a Maggie Dent blog with good advice for parents how to talk to their children about the virus.