Dear parents and caregivers
The Department of Education is working closely with the Department of Health, particularly Dr Andrew Robertson, the WA Chief Health Officer. We will continue to follow their advice. It is agreed, at this time, that schools will remain open through to the end of the current school term to support students whose parents want to send them to school. If you choose to keep your child at home, please let the school know and this will be recorded as a reasonable absence.
With strict rules being implemented around social distancing, we ask that where possible, you drop your child at the door of the classroom. We also encourage you to adhere to the government’s advice around gatherings, and please depart promptly at the beginning and the end of the day.
As per advice received from the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC), we are asking that students bring their own individual water bottles that can be filled from the fountain as necessary. This will reduce the need for students to drink directly from fountains and eliminate some of the risks around contact with these surfaces.
With such extensive media coverage, some children are already aware of the impact of the virus and will pick up on the concerns and anxiety of others. We do have the support of our school psychologist, Tanya Howarth, and chaplain, Renee Shapcott, should you have concerns about your child’s mental wellbeing. The website link provided on Monday, Learning at home, also provides advice and resources for parents and carers, educators and students. This includes a wide range of resources and information related to the impact of COVID-19 on students’ health and wellbeing and the impact on families. Below are some things you can do at home:
• Try and model calmness when talking with your children and family.Talk with your children about COVID 19. Answer their questions as honestly as possible. This may help to address their fears and reduce anxiety. Ask your children about how they are feeling. Listen and reassure them.
• Limit media exposure—frequent exposure to media may increase fear and anxiety.
• Focus on what you are doing as a family to stay safe. Give your children clear information about how to reduce their risk of infection in words they can understand, as this will give them a sense of control.
• Try and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Spend time together and keep to routines as much as possible or help create new ones. Make time for playing and relaxing. Have fun together.
• Look out for signs of distress—children may respond to stress in different ways. This may include changes to their sleeping patterns, change to appetite, loss of independence, eg increased clinginess, wanting to be close to adults or an increased in anger, irritability, anxiety and/or fear.
Being in a confined space for extended periods of time can be challenging. As a family, you can implement some of the following strategies:
• Talk to your family about what is happening. Understanding the situation may reduce their anxiety.
• Help your children think about how they have coped with difficult situations in the past and reassure them. Discuss different ways children and adults react to different stressful situations.
• Remind them that isolation will not last for long but necessary for their ongoing safety.
• Exercise regularly as it is a proven way of reducing stress and depression. Be creative. This could include exercise videos, dancing, yoga, walking around the backyard or using home exercise equipment.
• Plan time for structured family activities, schoolwork and play. Keep a normal routine where possible.
• Encourage your children to keep in touch with family members and friends via telephone, email or where appropriate, social media.
• Have fun together as a family.
Please contact us if you have queries or concerns.