In homes and offices across planet Earth, the main topic of conversation these days is COVID 19 – aka the Corona Virus. The media is having a field day reporting the many outbreaks and spikes and whilst most of the official information seems to be factual, many of the unverified reports are causing confusion and spreading misinformation all around.
Intercontinental and domestic travel has come to a standstill. Countries have closed their borders and curfews and lockdowns are the order of the day, in almost every town and city on every continent. These are all unprecedented events and whilst they are being done to stop the spread of the virus, many people are going into panic mode without really understanding the rationale behind.
It’s not that these events aren’t serious. They are! But they are being done to protect the populace, not scare them. The virus is a contagion and it spreads without the host even knowing that they are carrying it. The human loss of life in Italy and America has shown us what can happen, when people and Governments become apathetic to the pandemic.
But there is hope! Lots and lots of hope! China and South Korea have shown the world, how the virus can be beaten if stringent and draconian measures are adopted immediately. Everything happening round us is only a reflection of that emergency and if all of us jump onto the bandwagon of self-isolation, we will deny the virus the victory it seeks.
Our children get most of their information online and from the conversations they have with friends and family. Their attitude and responses are governed by the way their parents feel and act. They are largely guided by the hands that feed them and while it is true that the situation concerning COVID-19 is serious, it is not a permanent one. All the emergency measures announced are designed to break the chain of community spreading and when it is done, the COVID 19 virus will be contained and defeated.
Children are inquisitive by nature and will ask a lot of questions that defy logic. It’s important to answer them effectively so that they are willing participants, when the family goes into self-isolation. As parents we need to disseminate the information they have, so that they are not left feeling overwhelmed and helpless. Sharing real life stories reflecting the indomitable human spirit stories reinforces hope in their juvenile minds and the events of the last 3 months have thrown forward many such heroes. The story of the 103year old woman who recovered completely after contracting the virus, combines very well with the heroic efforts of French and Indian doctors who claim to have cured a hundred COVID 19 patients, using a combination of malaria and anti-viral drugs.
We also need to understand that our children’s lives as they know it, has changed. Since their understanding of COVID 19 may not be the same as adults, we need to try and keep their lives as full as possible. The absence of school, and all forms of play, gives them no outlet to expend their energy. The resulting boredom and restlessness when combined with irregular sleep patterns can manifest into depression and unsavory behavior. On top of that they are imprisoned at home since all outings are now curtailed.
Children live for the moment. Their thought processes are rather simple, as they leave important decision making and future planning to their parents. We need to get creative and balance out their time through a range of break-out sessions that will keep their mind and body occupied. Distance learning, board games, story-telling family time, arts and crafts, music, video games, reading, are some of the activities ideal for this sudden break in time. A whole lot of outdoor options also come into play when the family home is a villa or independent bungalow.
They say that ‘Time Is A Great Healer’ and TIME is exactly what mankind now needs. All the lockdowns and curfews in place, are buying us time to flatten the curve. Once we achieve that, the end of this phase will be in plain sight and we can all plan for the next phase, which is rebuilding our lives currently on hold.
As adults we have only just begun to understand the enormity of the task ahead of us. Breaking news and hourly updates continue to look grim, but it seems we are finally on the right path to annihilate COVID 19. Whilst we change our routines to buy mankind the time it needs, we should arm ourselves with easy to understand answers for our children, so that they can continue to be kids and remain protected from the havoc that reigns around us.
As a start it would be very useful to find out what your child knows about the disease and what unanswered questions are running through their minds. We have compiled a list FAQ’s which may help you put your child’s mind at rest, along with our suggested responses.
What is COVID 19 aka Coronavirus?
COVID 19 is a virus that cause a sickness in humans that resembles the common cold and flu. This virus known as coronavirus is believed to have started in animals and passed on to humans at a live animal market in Wuhan, China.
How did COVID 19 spread so fast around the globe ?
This is not the first time that a virus that started in animals, has spread to humans. There was a (SARS) Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak in 2002 that was caused by another corona virus. That virus was eventually contained and was not so widespread. Doctors, Scientists, and Governments are working hard to contain this newest coronavirus.
One reason why this virus is so much in the news, is on account of the speed in which it spread to every country across the world. Ease of travel and the fact that the virus is extremely infectious meant it spreads very rapidly through touch and contact, while people were just getting to only know about it’s existence.
Is there a chance of pets catching the virus?
No, there is little evidence to suggest that pets including dogs, cats and birds get sick or spread the virus.
How dangerous is the virus? How many people can die from the coronavirus?
A vast majority of people who catch the virus do not die. The global mortality rate currently hovers between 3%-6%, but it could be a lot lower as many countries have still not tested large segments of their population. In addition many people may not even have visited the doctor since they only had mild flu like symptoms which went away in 3-4 weeks. The people who have died are senior citizens who had pre-existing or chronic conditions, like high BP, Diabetes and Heart Disease.
Why is my school closed?
All schools are closed, because the UAE is the transit capital of the world and cases were found in residents and their families, who were frequent travelers. Since every school has a large collection of children in an enclosed campus, it made sense to close schools to stop community spreading. It is only temporary and schools will reopen once the number of cases drop and the disease is contained in the country.
If we stay at home, are we safe? What is the meaning of quarantine?
People who travel to the UAE from countries with a large number of cases or those who are exposed to someone having the virus, are quarantined for 14 days. If symptoms appear during this period, they are treated. If not they are allowed to resume their normal lives at the end of 2 weeks. The 2 week period is called a quarantine period.
Since COVID 19 cases were found in the UAE, staying at home ensures that no one at home comes in contact with a carrier or anyone who was exposed to the disease. It is only a temporary situation till the corona virus cases stop and life goes back to normal.
What safety precautions should I practice to be safe?
Practice every day healthy habits that you would (or should) do anyway.
Sneeze or cough into tissues (throw them away) or sneeze or cough into your elbow. This behavior stops germs from traveling and making other people sick.
Wash your hands with soap and water at regular intervals especially after visiting the toilet, before eating and after blowing your nose. When washing your hands, remember to count slowly to 20.
Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose if you touch doors, railings and lift buttons when you go out, to stop germs from entering your body. Use hand sanitisers to keep your hand germ free.
As much as possible avoid going out of the house or meeting more than one friend at a time.
Get enough sleep and eat well to keep your body healthy.
A message from Shining Star International School
All educational institutions in the UAE have been closed until April 2020. E-learning classes will start on the 5th of April 2020 (Grade 9 and 11) and for the rest of the school on the 13th of April 2020. Our teachers and staff have been working for 2 weeks finalizing lesson plans and the various applications that will be used on the schools new e-learning platforms.
We are very excited to begin the online learning and teaching, as it will add another dimension to our illustrious teaching record in the UAE. Please visit our website www.ssis.ae to get all the latest news and information.
Please stay at home and be safe.