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Message to Parents from Counselors during School Closures

 

March 19, 2020

Dear HMSA Parents,

As you know, HMSA has made the decision to close its campus and we reopened online on Monday, March 16. We hope that by practicing “social distancing,” we will do our part in limiting the spread of the coronavirus; however, we also recognize the impact that “social distancing” can have on various community members’ emotional wellbeing. It is common to feel anxious and overwhelmed when there are so many factors that remain unknown. We tend to try to avoid topics that trigger anxiety and stress, but not talking about it may actually increase these feelings for you and your student.

 

 Social Distancing

How to Stay Properly Informed about Coronavirus

Make sure to get your information from credible sources. Use sources like the school district website,  Centers for Disease Control or government websites. Be skeptical about the information you see on social media platforms. 

 It is important to try to limit media consumption. While it is important to stay informed, it is essential to set healthy limits if your student finds themselves constantly reading, watching, or listening to media coverage. If you can, try to have your student take breaks to focus on positive things in their life, especially ones that they have control over, or unplug. Again, if you or your student need news updates, check out a government resource for the best, most accurate information.  

 

Suggested sources: 

Hawthorne School District

HMSA Website

Center for Disease Control

Los Angeles County

Multilingual resources related to the Coronavirus

-Languages included: Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, Urdu, Tagalog and more...

 

How to Talk to Your Student About Coronavirus 

  • Allow and acknowledge your Student’s feelings (and your own)

  • Take cues from your student and provide developmentally appropriate explanations

  • Focus on what you are doing to keep your student safe (e.g. school is closed, we’re not going to gather in groups, we’re going to practice impeccable hygiene)

  • It is okay to say that you “do not know” when asked certain questions

  • Keep the conversation going

For more information on how to talk to your student about the coronavirus, please see the following resources:

Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus – Child Mind Institute

Exploring the Coronavirus -- NPR Comic

Strategies to Support Your Student During School Closure

  1. Talk about how you feel.

It is normal to experience a wide range of thoughts, feelings, and reactions during this time. You may experience the following:

  • Stress and worry

  • Fear and anxiety

  • Frustration and irritability

  •  Helplessness

  •  Difficulty sleeping and/or concentrating

 

  • Isolating or withdrawing from others

 

  • Physical symptoms (e.g. increased heart rate, sweating, low energy, stomachaches, headaches, etc.)

It can be helpful to talk with others, write in a journal, engage in creative activities (e.g. art, music, etc.), and/or speak to someone you feel comfortable with.

 

2.     Practice relaxation strategies:

During times of stress practicing relaxation can help soothe the mind and the body. If you and your student are feeling stressed, anxious, frustrated, irritable, helpless, etc. Relaxing the mind and body can send messages to your brain that you are okay and help soothe those uncomfortable feelings. In addition, when you are more relaxed or calm you tend to react to stressful situations in a more productive manner. Uses these resources below. 

Resources: 

        UCLA Mindfulness Exercises                                 Progressive Muscle Relaxation 

 Deep Breathing Exercises                     Headspace                             Calm

 

HMSA Counseling will be posting activities for you to do Monday-Friday. 

Our goal is to use these activities to stay connected with you. 

Mondays

        Tuesday 

        Wednesday

      Thursday

Friday

Mindful Mondays           

College Tuesdays 

        Active Wednesdays             

Thoughtful Thursdays            

Fun Fridays

 

3. Maintain a routine: 

It is important to maintain as much structure and routine as possible in your student’s lives, which can increase feelings of control and/or alleviate feelings of anxiety and/or stress.

-We know many students have multiple responsibilities at home which is why it is important to maintain a schedule and routine. If your student is taking care of younger siblings it is important they too have a routine and schedule. 

Suggestions: 

  • Before your student gets started with remote learning, talk to your student about their expectations during their time away from school. 

  • Try to keep their schedule consistent when it comes to bedtimes, morning routines (including getting dressed for the day), meals, and exercise.

  •  It may be helpful to set-up a specific workspace for your student, so they can see the separation between home and school (have the student avoid working from bed or the couch).

  • Make sure your student is proactive and make it a habit to do academic work daily and have them check their email at least twice a day. 

Daily Schedule

 

4. Stay Connected:

It is important for you and your student to stay connected to each other ( friends, peers, family). Receiving support from loved ones can have a powerful impact on your stress and sense of stability and comfort. What you should do:

  • Make time for regular, personal check-ins with friends and family via text, email FaceTime, etc.

  •   All of the people at school that you or would regularly reach out to for academic and emotional 

  • support is available via email or video chat (Zoom, google hangout, etc.)

Stay connected

 

If you and/or your student are feeling isolated please REACH OUT and let someone you trust know that you are feeling that way.  

 

5. Taking care of younger siblings resources: 

We know some students are taking care of their younger siblings during this time, so please use the following information below to help students keep their siblings engaged and learning. 

PBS Learning 

200 Free Kids Educational Resources

Common Sense Media

LA County Public Library Educational Links

 

 

Also please be very active in informing teachers, counselors or administration of any limitations your student has at home so we can best support them.  

 

6. Community Resources:

Food-School lunches available to all students under 18 from the district. 


 

School Lunch- hours and Location

 

Free Groceries from St. Margaret’s Center for Low income families

LA County Library- 

FREE Online Tutoring

FREE Digital Books

FREE Movie Streaming

And more...

Get a Temporary Digital Library Card

Mental and Emotional Wellbeing 

Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Access Center 24/7 Helpline (800) 854-7771 (562) 651-2549 TDD/TTY 

 

Text HOME to 741741 to connect to a Crisis Counselor

211 LA County central source for providing information and referrals for all health and human services in LA County

County Department of Public Health: call 2-1-1 for more information 

 

 

Warmly, 

The HMSA Counseling Team