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Intellectual Health Jackie Badger

Education Options for Families During Covid and Beyond

by Jackie Badger, MA Ed

Are you finding yourself stressed and frazzled, trying to figure out the best learning scenario for your family?  You’re not alone!  So many families who are not satisfied with the “distance learning” or hybrid models offered through public school districts are seeking out alternative scenarios for their children.  

Now more than ever, the hot topic being discussed is educational options and alternatives for families.  Once reserved for the homeschool community, families are now considering learning environments outside of traditional school settings for a variety of reasons. The current situation with Covid 19 has families looking for safe and healthy opportunities for children to learn, that opt out of the “distance learning” typically offered through school districts.  

Whatever the reason you have for seeking something outside the normal box of public or private school, congratulate yourself for wanting the best possible situation for your family!   You can do this!  Let’s consider the following alternatives for providing education for your family.  Public School, Distance Learning, and Homeschooling.  

Public School

Tried and true, it’s what most of us grew up with:  getting on the big yellow bus and going to school.  Pros are it’s easy, it’s free, and it’s reliable.  The curriculum has been chosen for your children, and the teachers and staff hired.  If any of your children have special needs, your school district will provide services for them.  Nobody is going to say to you, “What about socialization?”

With Covid 19, parents are concerned with the transmission of the virus and the effects of masking, social distancing, and isolation on students.  Other common concerns regarding public school include large class sizes, behavior both in and out of the classroom (bullying), lack of control of curriculum, and amount of time spent in school versus the amount of actual instruction time.  

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Distance Learning

You may want to consider enrolling in the distance learning program provided through your local school district or other online classes.  Distance Learning provided through your school district is tuition free, as are other online schools (ie Connections Academy or K12.com) which operate under public school “umbrellas” and receive state and federal funding.  These virtual schools operate much like public school, following a typical 6 hour/day schedule, employing teachers to teach curriculum, report to, take attendance, and issue report cards. 

Some drawbacks to Distance Learning are the lack of flexibility in scheduling and curriculum.  Students are required to attend during school hours, and are required to complete the curriculum and assignments chosen by the Distance Learning program.

There are virtual schools that operate independently of public school.  Some are tuition free and some charge a fee.  Think of these courses as “cafeteria style” classes to pick and choose from, and create your student’s individualized education plan.

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Homeschooling

Homeschooling is no longer the stereotypical isolated family; it is gaining huge momentum and popularity with mainstream, regular people.  There are plenty of options to meet your children’s schooling needs, whether it’s for a year….or for the duration.  Homeschooling enables families to “jigsaw” the perfect educational program for their child/children and families, and allows them incredible flexibility in terms of freedom and time.

There are many approaches to homeschooling; from creating a schedule similar to traditional schools, facilitating unit studies or project based learning, or abandoning “managed” education for a student led unschooling approach.  

Homeschooling can absorb a substantial amount of parent’s time, planning and implementing curriculum and activities.  It can create financial implications for families in that one parent may have to give up their job in order to oversee homeschooling.  Some homeschool curriculum, also, can be costly (although it doesn’t have to be).

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Options to Make Your Choice Work for Your Family

Take time to consider what your family values, and what aspects of your family life need attention.  Perhaps this is the year to focus on time with family and nurturing sibling or extended family relationships.   Is this year an opportunity to focus on academic skills?  Do you have a family business that your children could potentially help with?  

It’s important to surround yourself with a support network of like minded friends and family.  If enrolling in some form of public school is the right fit for your family, it’s important for students to continue to see friends and participate in activities.  If you have a student who gravitates towards athletics that are not offered this year, encourage them to consider other activities, clubs, or lessons your school or community offers.

There are plenty of opportunities to connect with other homeschool families.  Homeschool co-ops offer incredible support for families.  Some offer classes, recreational activities, sponsor field trips, or sponsor social activities (ie board game day, seasonal parties).  Search your local social media pages to find groups that align with your family’s needs.

The current situation with Covid 19 is certainly challenging and merits thought and planning.  However, there is no need to agonize and overthink what is best for your family.  It’s easy to get caught up in “analysis paralysis” as each situation has pros and cons.  Make a decision based on the best knowledge of your unique family and children.  No decision is permanent and if you make a choice that isn’t working, rest assured that you can always change your plan.  

This pandemic has a silver lining in that it has given families an incredible opportunity to slow down and do life at a less frantic pace.  Whether you chose public school, distance learning, or homeschooling…..you have the gift of time to do life with your family the way you want to.  Slow down and take time to read the books, take the nature walks, and essentially “smell the roses” with your family.

****Jackie Badger is a former public school teacher and longtime homeschool mom.  Having worn many teaching “hats” through the years, she is currently employed by her school district’s Community Education program.  Jackie resides in Minnesota with her family.   You can learn more about Jackie at her website, jackiebadger.com.

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Amanda Sterczyk Physical Health

Childbirth during a pandemic: My story of delivery during SARS

by Amanda Sterczyk, MA, CPT

Unprecedented times. That’s a phrase we’ve heard a lot lately, as countries around the world try to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic that’s spread to every corner of the planet. It’s not the first time a highly contagious coronavirus has spread from country to country. I am of course referring to the SARS outbreak in 2003. 

At the time, I was pregnant with our second child, and had a toddler occupying my attention during the day. Maybe SARS wasn’t reported as widely in your neck of the woods, or maybe you’re too young to recall what was being reported. Here in Canada, we received daily updates in local and national news broadcasts. That’s because, as a country, we experienced one of the highest death rates (17%), as well as one of the highest rates of infection, behind China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

And while we knew about the outbreak within Canadian borders, we didn’t really register it as an issue. That is, until we arrived at the hospital on delivery day. My water had broken at home—on my due date no less—and my husband and I bid his mother and our firstborn adieu as we headed to our local hospital’s maternity ward. 

Upon arrival at the main entrance to the hospital, we saw firsthand the quarantine measures. Large stop signs and other notices, stations with hand sanitizer, gowned and masked staff sitting behind a table. They were screening and, often turning away, potential visitors. That’s right, they were limiting the flow of people in and out of the hospital. 

After responding to their screening questions, we were allowed to proceed to the elevators and continue up to the maternity ward. The first thing I noticed when we exited the elevators was how quiet it was compared to my first kick at the can. Our first child was born on the same floor, two years earlier. At the time, I was desperate to return home because of how loud and noisy the ward was. You see, my roommate’s extended family had set up camp on her side of the curtain. Closing the door to drown out the inordinate number of visitors to other new moms and their offspring just made the cramped room seem even smaller—and louder. 

This time, though, as a direct result of SARS, new moms were only allowed one visitor, both during the blessed event and for their one-to-two day stay postpartum. I can’t speak to how other families handled the restriction, but it worked well for us. What did it matter whether you met a new human at day one of existence or day seven? At least, that’s what I thought. We didn’t have a midwife for either pregnancy, so we were not forced to choose between father and midwife as the solo addition in the birthing suite. I have seen stories the past few weeks about expectant mothers compelled to change their birth plans because of similar restrictions with the COVID-19 pandemic. I get their concern and frustration when things aren’t proceeding as planned. 

I don’t want to minimize anyone’s feelings, but please bear with me as I try to offer a little perspective: Having plans upended by something out of your control is a great way to prepare you for your new role as a mother. Because anyone who’s had children will tell you that being flexible in the face of unplanned upheaval is the name of the game in parenthood. As my decade-older neighbor—who’s about to become a grandmother for the first time—so accurately reminded me just yesterday, it wasn’t that long ago that fathers-to-be weren’t welcome to the party (only the after-party). On that note, who would you rather have in the room with you? If it was up to me, I’d much prefer to include the person who’s going to actively assist me during labour and delivery, whoever that may be.

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Isabela Collins Mental Health Social Health

How I am surviving the coronavirus pandemic

By Isabela Collins ATC

No one ever expected this. I would never have thought I would have to see my dear friends lose their jobs and file for unemployment before the age of 25. I never thought my senior athletes’ would see the field for the last time after a regular season game in mid March. No one could have prepared for this. Now we are living our lives like we have never had before, having more down time than we need or want, (hopefully) isolating in ourselves that we are bored to tears.

Thankfully, I still have a job and am working 4 days out of the week. BUT my lifestyle, like most of you, is turned upside down. It is hard to change and adjust to a routine you are used to. But instead of complaining about it and fighting it; i am accepting it for what it is and adapting. Instead of taking my cut hours at work as a bad thing, I am going to look at it as a blessing in disguise. I am going to be optimistic and try to seize this moment as an opportunity.  In my opinion, I think it is best to try to keep your day as productive as possible to try to avoid any negativity and bad thoughts that come to mind when I am just sitting around. Here are some tips and tricks I have been using to survive each day. 

Now that gyms are closed in Florida, we have to resort to staying active at home. Personally, this is extremely hard for me because it is so hard to stay motivated. Working out alone gets pretty boring but staying on top of my workout routine is extremely important to me. I think getting active a little bit every day will help increase and uplift your mood. Get outside and walk/run/bike around the block or find a quick youtube workout video.

To fill in the spare time I have, I decided to pick up a new hobby: gardening. I have always wanted to start my own vegetable garden and have my own supply to cook with, but with my busy and crazy work schedule, I always found an excuse to put it off. I am using this time to my advantage to start something new and fun! It gives me new excitement each day to watch my plant babies grow and gives me a sense of accomplishment. 

Now, I am not saying each day will be great and full of opportunity. We will have down days, but it is how we deal and react to them that will determine the outcome. From my previous article, I mentioned Camp Kulabunga, they have been great with providing us with resources through their Instagram (@campkulabunga) to get us through these tough times. (Read my previous article here: https://positivelybalancedllc.com/2020/01/06/vulnerability/ .)I really took into one of their workshops where they mentioned setting affirmations each day. That even though we are going through a rough time, we are still alive and present. We need to connect and have peace with our inner self, change your narrative to celebrate each day. 

Following these 3 simple tips have helped me stay (somewhat) sane throughout this quarantine. This situation we are in is far from ideal but, I am trying to get the most out of what is put in front of us, is keeping me positive throughout these weird times. 

Categories
Cassandra McCoy Keli Kirwin Mental Health Physical Health

Birth and Postpartum During COVID-19

Video and article by Keli Kirwin and Cassandra McCoy MAT, ATC, LAT


Birth during COVID-19, much like many other things right, now looks completely different than we are used to.

In these two conversations, Keli Kirwin a postpartum doula and Cassandra McCoy, talk about those differences, the options and resources available during this time.

Birth During COVID-19


Topics discussed:

  • Current requirements
  • Birth options

Postpartum during COVID-19

Topics discussed:

  • Services possibly provided virtually
  • Food Services
  • Connecting with your providers
  • Physical/ mental self care tips
  • Ways support can still be provided to a postpartum woman

www.sacredspacepostpartum.com

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Jayme Taylor Physical Health Social Health Sophia Pollalis

The Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020: What it is and how you can do your part to stop the spread.

Written by Sophia Pollalis ATC, LAT and Jayme Taylor MSN, APRN-CNP, FNP-BC, CSOWM, DIPACLM


What is coronavirus?

COVID-19, which stands for Corona Virus Disease 2019, is a strain of coronavirus that was discovered in late 2019 not previously identified in humans. The coronavirus is a family of viruses that were first discovered in 1965 when it was noted that the corona virus had a similar structure to viruses seen in animals1. They had a crown-like structure, hence “corona.”

Coronaviruses are common and generally present as upper respiratory tract infections. There are seven known strains of coronaviruses that can infect humans. Four are very common and have not produced worldwide panic and precaution; three of them, including the most recent COVID-19, have produced significant response in recent years2. These include SARS3 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in the early 2000’s and the MERS4 (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) in 2012. In the cases of SARS, MERS, and COVID-19, the source of the coronavirus were animals5. Coronaviruses are also common in different species of animals, such as camels, cattle, cats, and bats; in rare cases they can infect humans.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 is characterized by fever, cough, and shortness of breath as it is an upper respiratory tract infection5. These symptoms can show up as early as 2 days after exposure, running up to 14 days based on the previous outbreaks of MERS and current trends, however we don’t know how long the actual incubation period is because it is new5,6.

 How does it spread?

While COVID-19 originally came from an animal-human contact, the pandemic risk spreads very easily from person-to-person5. Transmission can occur through droplets in the air, like if someone sneezes and you happen to inhale the droplets, or by touching the same surfaces as someone else, like shaking hands or touching doorknobs. Because we don’t know a whole lot about COVID-19, experts are referring to the known infection transmission of MERS, SARS, and animal coronaviruses7. These experts postulate that, at room temperature, human coronaviruses can survive up to 9 days on inanimate surfaces. A preliminary study led by researchers at Princeton, UCLA, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that the virus can survive up to 3 days on non-pourous surfaces, up to 24 hours on pourous surfaces like cardboard, and possibly be able to survive suspended in a mist for 3 hours8. This information does have to be taken with a grain of salt, as these are just preliminary tests in a laboratory setting and won’t be the same as conditions in your home, on the bus, or in a store5,8.

How can I protect myself and others from the virus?

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, especially after being in public places, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or if your hands are physically dirty. Hand sanitizer can also be used, but washing your hands is king5. Check out our article here on how hand washing gets rid of bacteria and viruses.
  • Avoid touching your face5. If you weren’t before, you are going to be so aware of how many times you touch your face. Your skin is a protective barrier to the body, but germs can get in through the useful openings we have in them, like our eyes, nose, and mouth. We can also take germs from our faces and transmit them to others by touching our faces.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces likely to transmit the disease, especially doorknobs, light switches, your steering wheel, keyboards, and sinks5. If surfaces are physically dirty, clean them with soap and water or another detergent first, then sanitize after. Bleach and alcohol solutions work well. Make sure your disinfectant is appropriate for the surface your are cleaning and your follow manufacturer instructions. If it says leave on the surface for 5 minutes, they really mean that.
  • Stay home from work and other social gatherings if you feel sick EXCEPT to get medical care.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or into your elbow when you sneeze or cough. Your droplets can travel almost 20 feet when you cough and 26 feet when you sneeze9!
  • If you are sick and going to be sharing a space with another person, wear a face mask. If you are NOT sick, there is no reason for you to wear a face mask unless you are caring for someone who is sick, or the person that is sick can’t wear one5.

Why is social distancing important?

On March 11, 2020, the WHO characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic10. This is the first coronavirus to spark a pandemic, as we typically see pandemics with the flu or other diseases. What that means for the US is widespread transmission in the coming months5. Most of the population will be exposed to the virus, but not all will show symptoms and some will only show minimal symptoms. If we compare COVID-19 to the yearly flu, its current hospitalization rate is significantly lower. According to the CDC, the United State sees between 9 million and 45 million cases of influenza each year, resulting in 1.5 to 2% hospitalizations11.  The current trend in China and Italy shows a 15% or greater rate of hospitalization12. This is a problem for the US because we have about 2.8 hospital beds per 1000 people and around 100,000 ventilators total in the country13. If the coronavirus follows the trajectory of what has happened in China and Italy, healthcare workers would be forced to choose which patient gets a bed or which patient gets a ventilator. Our healthcare system would not be able to handle the strain of a mass outbreak. Limiting our exposure by closing schools, cancelling sporting events and seasons, not going to birthday parties, and not running to the store unless you have to, we can flatten the curve and allow our healthcare system to do its job, preserving lives that don’t have to be lost.

A note from Jayme Taylor, Positively Balanced contributor and Nurse Practitioner on the front lines:

“The symptoms of the coronavirus are very similar to influenza, and because we are in the middle of the flu season right now our only real way to distinguish risk of coronavirus vs flu is to assess for potential exposure. We triage every patient that calls with “flu-like symptoms” to see if they have been out of the country or in contact with someone who has recently been out of the country, traveled to a high risk state, etc. So not taking adequate precautions to limit community spread and exposure actually complicates the diagnostic process. It is also a burden on the healthcare system to be seeing mild cases of upper respiratory illnesses in healthy people because they are afraid it could be the coronavirus. It is important to stress that like flu, the coronavirus is a virus and treatment is supportive. Those at risk like elderly, young children, and the immunocompromised should take extra precautions to limit risk of exposure. However, mild cases in otherwise healthy people will likely resolve on their own without complication. Limiting spread of this virus protects those high risk patients from exposure. So if someone is sick they should stay home, regardless of viral cause; if symptoms worsen and they have uncontrollable fever, shortness of breath or other severe symptoms then they should seek medical attention.”

Sources

1.       https://journals.lww.com/pidj/fulltext/2005/11001/history_and_recent_advances_in_coronavirus.12.aspx

2.       https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/types.html

3.       https://www.cdc.gov/about/history/sars/timeline.htm

4.       https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/about/index.html

5.       https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

6.       https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus-resource-center#COVID

7.       https://www.journalofhospitalinfection.com/article/S0195-6701(20)30046-3/fulltext

8.       https://abcnews.go.com/Health/covid19-days-surfaces-experiment-findings/story?id=69569397

9.       https://www.sciencefocus.com/the-human-body/how-far-do-coughs-and-sneezes-travel/

10.   https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19—11-march-2020

11.   https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html

12.   https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/10/simple-math-alarming-answers-covid-19/

13.   https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/14/815675678/as-the-pandemic-spreads-will-there-be-enough-ventilators