Dear Hastings Secondary College Community
There is no doubt this past week has been difficult and stressful for everyone – students, teachers and families. As we continue to face the effects of the pandemic, we need to be mindful of our emotional wellbeing.
Many in our community will be facing economic difficulties. Please contact the school if you need support. I would like to personally thank all of our families and students who are working in supermarkets, chemists and others retail suppliers and in the medical and health care professions who are dealing with unprecedented demands.
I have been overwhelmed by how the staff at Hastings Secondary College have pulled together. They have been working hard to support students.
Teachers have been putting in extra effort and time to prepare for online and remote learning should schools close.
1. Keep calm – there are lots of things outside our control. Let’s remember to focus on what really matters. Hastings Secondary College will continue to focus on being a calm place where our students feel they belong and can learn.
2. Be kind – we are all in this together. Reach out to help others who may be in need. Know that nearly everyone is feeling stressed and when we are on edge, we can be sharp when we do not mean to be.
Below is a message with specific advice from our school counsellors for you as a parent and carer.
From Hastings Secondary College School Counsellors
It can feel stressful and overwhelming during an event like the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and we can all be affected differently. You or your children might feel overwhelmed by the information, conversations and the increased levels of stress in your community.
It can be hard to know what information to trust especially in a situation where things are changing so quickly. It can be helpful to keep up-to-date but it’s also okay to switch off from the 24 hour media cycle if this is getting too much.
Following is some advice accumulated from the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and Headspace that may assist you to support your family's mental health as this situation continues to unfold.
Children will inevitably pick up on the concerns and anxiety of others, whether this be through listening and observing what is happening at home or at school. Providing opportunities to answer their questions in an honest and age-appropriate way can help reduce any anxiety they may be experiencing. You can do this by:
- speaking to them about coronavirus in a calm manner
- asking them what they already know about the virus so you can clarify any misunderstandings they may have
- letting them know that it is normal to experience some anxiety when new and stressful situations arise
- giving them a sense of control by explaining what they can do to stay safe (eg wash their hands regularly, stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing)
- not overwhelming them with unnecessary information (eg death rates) as this can increase their anxiety
- reassure them that coronavirus is less common and severe in children compared to adults
- allowing regular contact (eg by phone) with people they may worry about, such as grandparents, to reassure them that they are okay.
Furthermore, go back to basics. Our children learn by observing. Keep doing the stuff you love to do (where possible) and the things that are important to you, model that there is a life outside of the hysteria, and ensure you're having conversations about other things as well.
Try not to let the children worry about financial or other stresses that may be occurring in your family as a result of the virus.
Provide opportunities for your kids to switch off, watch a movie together or play a board game. Staying active will help them (and you!) to sleep better, manage stress and boost mood and will provide some much needed fresh air and vitamin D - even going for a walk as a family or down to the local park are safe options.
Stay hydrated and continue to enjoy a healthy diet. Getting enough sleep may mean reducing access to TV news and social media hysteria before bedtime.
I have attached a factsheet from the APS should you wish to learn more about coping with the anxiety brought about by COVID-19 or access any further support.
Hastings Secondary College