On Friday, the Deseret News published a very helpful article about the state of services in the state of Utah in response to the coronavirus, COVID-19. A number of different events will be delayed or restricted including church services, plays, sporting events, and a number of different public events like concerts, plays, and arts festivals. If you are interested in reading the whole article, follow this link to the Deseret News article: COVID-19: What’s closed or canceled in Utah? For our students, teachers, and parents there will be a number of school closures happening in the coming week, with many schools choosing to move educational services online. And there may be more to come. We wanted to make a post about what school closures may mean for parents and students, and how students can best prepare to spend time at home productively, in the event that you find your particular school under moratorium for safety reasons.
So, your school has been temporarily cancelled. Maybe classes have been moved online. Or maybe your teachers are busy at work preparing your curriculum for you to complete at home. This can be a really tough decision to make for schools, as they know the burden it can put on parents and students. Many parents work during the weekdays, and rely on school for support with supervision. And think about the millions of meals (School Lunch) that are served to students each day that will now happen at home.
If a child is now at home, it can be tough to coordinate support for that young person. Especially true with younger, grade-school aged kids. Being a student in this position can be tough too. School is a time where we get to socialize with our friends, and whether we like to admit it or not: sometimes unstructured time can be tough to manage! Having a set schedule is a great benefit to young people, and the school day helps to regulate your eating, sleeping, and often your exercise throughout the week. Extracurricular activities, like school sports or club events, are also one of the big ways we see our friends and fill-up our cup socially.
Let’s talk about a few things you can do, during this time away from the classroom, to cope with the change of being home.
1: Make sure you continue to wake up at a regular and reasonable time
Regulating your sleep is critical for your mental well-being. Waking up at the same time every day can help you regulate your behavior and keep you on a routine. If you have a pet, think about how critical it is for them to go out at about the same time every day. For them to walk at about the same time every day. For them to eat around the same time. The same is true for all of us. We really rely on a routine to keep us organized and sane in the world. Without school, you now have much more time to organize on your own, and fewer consequences if you violate your schedule.
2: Continue to be physically active
School often provides us with a time to be physically active. Not only are you walking from class to class, and sprinting back to your locker between classes, you may also engage in physical fitness during the day, sports teams before or after school, or both. If those things are suspended, you really need to consider what you are going to do during the day to keep your body active. When you have an active body, your mind is better able to organize and process information, and your mood and your sleep patterns regulate themselves better as well. Being mindful of public places because of COVID-19 can complicate physical activity. Going to the gym is not recommended; however, a walk around the neighborhood might be ok, or a hike on a more isolated nature trail may be ideal.
3: Continue to be mentally active while out of school
Along with being physically active, be careful to consider that you are maintaining your mental activity too! We may take for granted how special it is to go to school everyday and listen to new ideas that help us grow and challenge what we know about the world. If schools are cancelled because of COVID-19, you will need to make sure that you are continuing to challenge yourself to grow and learn throughout the day.
Find a good book that you have wanted to tackle for some time. Listen to a new podcast that you are interested in. Try writing, drawing, or playing music. (We have included some links below to check out.) Anything to keep your mind active, and not watching movies, or playing video games all day. Projects around the house might be great. Cleaning/organizing your bedroom, or working out in the yard can be incredibly satisfying and meaningful ways to spend a bit of time.
4: How does COVID-19 change how I socialize?
If your school is closing, going out into large crowded places is probably not a great idea. There are some small changes you can make to your social life to adjust. Having a movie night at home instead of going to the movie theatre could be one. Making dinner at home instead of going out to a restaurant might be another. The problem with “social-distancing,” one of the techniques recommended by the CDC, is that we humans are social animals. We love to be around each other. And a day off is the perfect time to go out and see movies, hang out with friends, and get out and explore the world around us; however, we know that social-distancing means to be conscious effort to limit close contact with others. Finding a good balance is the important thing, and remembering that our goal should be to keep ourselves, and those we care about healthy.
Spring Break and Travel Plans may change because of COVID-19
Spring break is coming up, and families may be trying to decide if vacations/family-trips are going to continue as planned, or if travel plans may be changing. And although the news keeps evolving day-by-day, it seems to be the case that older adults, like your grand-parents, may be more vulnerable to exposure to COVID-19 than younger people. A visit to them may be better if postponed for the near-term, just to wait and see how things play out over the coming days/weeks.
5: Be careful not to overuse social-media and manage your time as well as you can.
Even if schools are suspended as a precaution to COVID-19, you may still have assignments that you still need to stay on top of. Be sure to schedule time to do those things throughout the day to do those things. Waiting until the last minute only creates more stress. Your parents may not be home to make sure that you regulate this schedule either. That means, it is up to you. You have to decide that this routine is important for you and will be worthwhile.
Imagine every morning waking up with a clear path set out in front of you that leads to something that you would like to accomplish that day. Unstructured time presents us with all kinds of opportunities to get lost from that path we set out for ourselves. Think about what a path looks like. I imagine a small dirt path in the woods. Beset on both sides by trees. The path that I imagine is small. And I think that is true of paths to our goals, in general. The path is a small, somewhat direct, route that leads through the distractions (and dangers) of the world to the things that we value (or think we value). Social media can be a way to slip off the path of our goals and when we finally open our eyes, several hours later, only then do we realize how far from our path we have deviated.
Having schools cancelled is not easy for any of us. It often is only when we start restricting things in our day-to-day lives that we start to realize some of the things that we normally take for granted. There are a number of great online resources for us to keep our minds active, and stay informed during this time. Check out some of the links below:
12 Famous Museums Offering Virtual Tours
Live Streaming Concerts
Grade-school Science Lessons – Online
Khan Academy Schedules for School Closures
Free Yoga Classes Online
Youth Fitness – Online
And check out some of our other blog-posts:
Bullying Prevention: Research to Practice
Secret to Ending Bullying in School: Teaching Kindness
Identity: What is it? How do I find mine?
Stay up to date on local Coronavirus news with Utah.gov
Follow national Coronavirus news with CDC.gov
US Department of Education ed.gov