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The Relentless School Nurse: Explaining COVID-19 to Children And Helping Them Overcome the Fear of Face Masks

Elementary school nurse, Anne Young, created a series of videos for her students and parents to help reduce the stress and disruption of COVID-19. Nurse Young's Corner is a delightful collection of informative videos that translate the ever-evolving pandemic information families are grappling to understand. Look for Nurse Young's "magic box," something that all school nurses need in our health offices!

Explaining COVID-19 to Children And Helping Them Overcome the Fear of Face Masks

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash[/caption]

 

 

As an elementary school nurse, I designed a video to explain the coronavirus in a way children could understand. - Anne Young


It all began with a simple trip to the grocery store. It was my first time in public since my region went on lockdown due to the coronavirus, and I quickly discovered this formerly routine trip was anything but simple. Since I had some illness symptoms, I had placed myself on a strict quarantine and had not left the house for 17 days.

Do you remember that sense of the zombie apocalypse the first time you ventured out on the nearly empty streets? Deserted parking lots. Businesses shuttered. I had seen some news footage and felt somewhat prepared for that.

As I got out of my car, I dutifully put on my face mask and headed into the grocery store. Masks were not required but strongly encouraged then. I had read enough to know the benefits of protecting others by wearing a mask. As a nurse, I had been accustomed to wearing surgical masks for certain clinical situations when one was warranted. However, I had never worn one in public as a citizen shopping for groceries.

 
Photo by frankie cordoba on Unsplash

It was so unnerving as I entered the store and encountered strangers with their faces half covered. The fear in the eyes of others was more pronounced since it was the only part of their face I could see. Those who were not wearing masks looked skeptically at those who did. So much about the virus and its transmission was still unknown.


Nervous adults, worried children

My thoughts turned to my young elementary students whose worlds were turned upside down in recent weeks. As we adults were floundering and panicking and wondering how to manage this seismic shift in our daily existence, our young children were hunkered down at home, isolated from their friends, teachers, and extended family.

As their school nurse whom they were accustomed to seeing daily, I was yet another person they were no longer interacting with. I had no virtual classroom. I was busy helping families in need to obtain food and necessities, yet I longed to see my students.

Parents were doing their best to survive each day, becoming teachers overnight in addition to working from home. There were plenty of articles and links to resources on talking to your kids about COVID-19, but as a worn-out working mother myself, the last thing I wanted was to have something else to add to my already overflowing plate.

Who had time to even read up on these resources? I was too consumed with assisting three children learning remotely while simultaneously working full time. My family needed a spreadsheet just to coordinate all of our virtual meetings!


Creating a video

I decided that if I created a video, the students could at least see me and find some reassurance from a familiar face. And their parents could watch it with them and the video could provide a springboard for conversations about a difficult topic.

Yet I knew nothing about making videos! I also prefer to be behind the camera rather than in front of it. However, the concept kept hounding me so I decided to move forward and develop a plan. I did a ton of research and plenty of trial and error before posting to YouTube.

I had given a lot of thought not only to my messaging but capitalizing on the advantages a video brings versus a poster or written story. I could demonstrate how the mask hides my smile. I would dress up in PPE (personal protective equipment) to illustrate that it is still me hiding underneath an outfit that children may find frightening.

First, it is so important to allow children to feel their feelings. It is tempting to want to shield them from the scariness of this global pandemic β€” and of course, we should limit their access to news stories and such.

But to tell children everything is fine denies them the opportunity to acknowledge the reality that they recognize in their gut.

Children are so perceptive and absorb much more than we give them credit for. So at the beginning of the video, I give children the space to notice what they may be feeling.


 
Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

With my audience being 5–10-year-olds, I embraced the challenge of meeting them in their varying developmental stages. Enter my magic box! The element of surprise and the wonder of just how that hand appears keeps children of all ages captivated.

Then, with so much misinformation about COVID-19 circulating, I give some simple facts about the virus, using images and language children can understand. I even had parents tell me they learned a few things that they did not know before watching my video!

And finally, I empower children with concrete actions they can take. This moves them from the feeling of powerlessness to the feeling of being able to make a difference. Even at a young age, a child can be a superhero against the virus and spread kindness instead of spreading germs!

I end the video, as I do all my subsequent videos, with a joke. I remind kids that laughter is the best medicine!


Here is the video:


This message resonated with children and parents in very powerful ways.

The mother of one of my anxious kindergarteners told me that her daughter spent the rest of the day talking about how she can be a superhero against the virus.

I share these two anecdotal stories to illustrate what can happen when we allow children to feel their feelings and then offer them the opportunity to take action and turn those feelings into a positive experience.

This pandemic is not going away anytime soon, and we must continue to listen to our children and be a loving and reassuring presence for them.


You find more videos on Anne's YouTube Channel:

Nurse Young's Corner

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I am sorry, but every cell in my body screams out that THIS IS CHILD ABUSE. 

Before anyone moves all of society in a direction so dehumanizing, every human on the planet who will be impacted should be asking where is the evidence that this is necessary?  I mean science, real, repeatable science that has been examined and evaluated by all levels of scientific society and is not distorted by abusive bullying or manipulation ?  When has this reproducible and honest science been openly discussed in public forums where every member of society can see and understand what is going on?  I have a BS in Biology and Chemistry; the Coronavirus Narrative does not fit with science.   The Coronavirus narrative does fit with Dogma and could easily be considered Religious because it takes unquestioning belief in "Authority"  to accept it.   

I have seen many, very credible scientific presentations that shine a tremendous amount of doubt on much of the Coronavirus narrative, certainly this continuing narrative.  That information needs to be hashed out.  I want to hear my pediatrician and my personal doctor tell me that they have examined all the science and it is solid.  I don't want to hear either tell me instead that this is what some unnamed and unaccountable authority currently is throwing out there as "Just What we have to do now."    Where is your valid and reproducible proof for any of this?    What is your thought process on this?   How can I follow your thinking to understand how you have come to this conclusion?   

I think that the folks here on this website who agree with these ideas can only represent a very, very, very miniscule percentage of the actual people in the world who interact with children.   

Most people are too afraid to speak out about any of this and I don't blame them for being afraid.  There is a lot of intimidation and bullying going on but ultimately it is our responsibility to speak up for children.  

In a sane world, children are the greatest priority for protection.    In a sane world, children's needs would always come first and would certainly always be considered.  in a sane world, we are not locked in by fear.   

If we are not going to consider children's developmental needs, lets at least be honest about it.  There is nothing about this that is good or wholesome or healthy for children developmentally.   

I hope we wake up before it is too late.   

Last edited by Lisa Geath
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