As panic levels rise, I thought it might be useful to gather some resources and thoughts about the Coronavirus into one place.
Factual information: As with any subject, it is essential to start with good and reliable sources
The 24 hour news cycle means that there are thousands of media articles a day being pumped out, but The Guardian’s Essential Guide seems a reasonable summary to date.
BBC has a clear set of visuals about staying safe
Talking to children about the virus There seems to be relatively little out there in the way of good resources to reassure children about the virus, but try
Also, there is the ever excellent Newsround which has several programmes related to the topic.
Resources: Twinkl have said that they will offer free access to their resources for schools forced to close.
Handwashing This is obviously key and can be supported by the singing of ‘Happy Birthday’ (Though apparently singing ‘The Red Flag’, saying the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ or reciting the ‘Out, Out Damned Spot’ speech from Macbeth work as well). There are hundreds of other suggestions on the internet. However, please consider the needs of children with sensory issues with the noise of large numbers of singing children in a confined space, particularly those with issues about birthdays, and those with medical conditions which are triggered or exacerbated by the use of soap.
Racist bullying: Racism and bullying often are triggered by fear and the desire to blame someone. There are been growing reports of isolation, bullying and even attacks on children (and adults) of Chinese and other Asian origin or appearance, as well as children of Italian background. As the virus spreads and becomes a worldwide phenomenon this may decline, but schools need to be very aware of it and manage it as they would any other racist incident.
Phishing emails and internet scans: There appears to be a growing trend of fake news, cures and scams related to Coronavirus, including companies offering hard to access resources like hand sanitiser, paper towels and toilet paper. As always be on the lookout for phishing emails, which may appear to come from a trusted source. Remember, you can look at the sender’s details – specifically the part of the email address after the ‘@’ symbol – in the ‘From’ line to see if it looks legitimate. It might be worth warning parents about this.
Care for those self-isolating: It is important for schools to begin to think about how we will support children and staff who have the virus or are asked to self-isolate. By its nature, this will be isolating, and it is important that we keep in touch with these members of our communities by phone, email and letter, including sending resources for children to continue learning. For our colleagues, WhatsApp messages and other contact can help to keep them in the loop of school life. The process of being quarantined will impact on people’s mental health. We need to consider and act on safeguarding concerns for any child who is being quarantined. It is worth remembering while it may be reasonable to expect someone who is self-isolating to continue working, providing they are being paid, if someone is off work and ill, they should not be expected to respond to work requests. Both for children and staff, we should try and check that they and their family have access to community resources and are able to access food and medicines. Also, that they are supported and welcomed on their return to school.