March 2021 - Returning to In-Person Learning and Adaptive Models

Students have returned to schools after the second lock-down. Extra precautions have been taken with this return following the guidelines from Public Health, particularly around the use of additional PPE, minimized gatherings outdoors and indoors. Families might have some uncertain feelings and thoughts around sending children back to school. The focus of this month’s newsletter will be on identifying lingering anxieties, developing calming strategies one might use to mitigate them, and the importance of sharing with peers to maintain social connections and mental health. In moments of anxiety what are your go-to strategies to maintain calmness? Each of us has our personal mechanisms to cope in the moment, after the anxious event. For some holding a pet can be comforting, while for others it might be calling a friend who can offer a listening ear, taking a much needed nap, journaling, or drawing.

For parents, the thought of how their families might cope in the event that they get sick, can weigh heavily on a person. According to CMHA, continued stress can suppress the immune system which may not have short-term effects but could result in the body becoming vulnerable to long-term illnesses.  To maintain good health, despite the lack of hours in the day, it is important to formally schedule time for self-care. Now that the children are back in the classroom, taking a moment to:

  • Identify when you feel stress or anxiety, observing how your body feels (sweating, racing heart, balmy hands), reflect on some of the thoughts and feelings you experience in those moments.
  • Acknowledge that those thoughts are where you are at right now, become aware of them and take stock of what you can control and what is beyond your control.
  • Solve problems that can be resolved even if it means doing them differently and unlike the way you would normally do them.
  • Talk about stress and anxieties within trusted social circles to prevent further isolation during this time of social distancing. Cell phones, virtual meeting spaces, or even the outdoors (while following public health guidelines) might be ideal avenues to maintain social connection.
  • Move your body through walking, or an exercise program, helps shift anxieties and harmful thought patterns.
  • Eat healthy balanced meals that are lower in sugar and carbs can help reduce stress.
  • Do something FUN

School Mental Health Ontario has created a variety of resources for educators, parents and families, and students regarding supporting student mental health during this time. Check out some more tips from School Mental Health Ontario on taking care of yourself, so you can be your best to support your children.

Mental Health COVID-19 Page

COVID-19 has presented unprecedented issues and concerns for our community, our country and the world. As we focus on keeping ourselves healthy and containing the spread of COVID-19, we must also keep ourselves mentally well.

The link below is dedicated to supporting student mental health during this pandemic.  Resources for students, parents/guardians as well as community resources are listed.  In addition, there are various links to YRDSB mental health supports as well as community supports available during the school closure.  Please consider taking some time to familiarize yourself with the Mental Health and Community Supports During COVID

Continue to check out the YRDSB website for updated information as well as the Twitter account @YRDSB

YRDSB Mental Health services are provided by YRDSB psychology and social work personnel

Patricia Marra-Stapleton, M.Sc., C. Psych. Assoc.

Mental Health Lead