Mental Health & Wellness During the Pandemic
We continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are experiencing unprecedented disruption to our lives. We all would have preferred to begin this academic year in person and are adjusting to our virtual reopening. There are many things that are uncertain and will continue to change. We know that school activities, routines, and social connections are essential to the social and emotional well-being of our students. We are moving forward as a school and will emerge stronger than before.
We are Going to Take Care of Ourselves, Each Other, and Our Community
Sandia Prep is working to respond rapidly to state and federal health guidelines and implement safety procedures. We are creating opportunities for students to connect with each other and teachers in ways that will meet safety guidelines, including prescreening, masks, social distancing, and outdoor classrooms. While we are starting with a virtual platform, we will continue working to connect with you and finding innovative ways to continue existing Sandia Prep culture and traditions that hold true to our essential mission and ourselves.
Here are some things you and your family can think about and do right now to prepare:
Pause and Reflect
The start of the school year represents a hope of life returning to normal with all of the familiar routines, social connections, academics, sports, arts, learning challenges, growth, and fun. What does this mean for you, right here and now?
Take Time to Feel and Understand Your Feelings
It is expected that you have many different feelings. You may feel both relieved and hopeful, or disappointed, angry, sad, and anxious. Whatever emotions you may feel, it is essential that we identify and discuss those feelings and experiences, with our students, within families, with our friends, and within our classrooms. Let us begin by thinking about and labeling our emotions, so we may begin to talk with our school community about what we are experiencing.
Take time to have a conversation with each other to discuss what is happening with school. Ask questions and consider: How did I feel when the pandemic first began? How do I feel right now? How might this change with school starting? There are no right or wrong answers, and people will feel differently. Kids often feel differently than adults. It is important to talk directly with each other to learn about thoughts and feelings. To begin, let’s communicate and listen. You may feel that you have done this already. Please do it again, because circumstances and feelings change, and we are likely not as good at this as we may think we are. The research shows that adults generally underestimate the impact of traumatic events to children and adolescents.
We all need to deliberately focus on positive ways to cope and move forward with our virtual learning plan and return to campus, as we are able. Our talented teachers are transforming the curriculum and learning experiences in exciting ways. Students, you can take ownership of your learning and reconsider what and how you learn and why. We want our students to develop advanced skills in understanding their own social and emotional functioning, develop resilience and coping skills, and have preparedness for whatever the future may hold. The better you understand and care for yourself, the better you will be prepared to contribute to our community and our world in positive, meaningful ways.
We are going to share evidence-based information and strategies with you and your family that will help you learn and develop skills to take charge of your own well-being. Mindfulness and relaxation techniques reduce the effects of stress and give you a foundation to maintain calm. Building routines, including nutrition, sleep, and exercise, will help you to be strong and healthy. It is normal to feel anxious, and have fears and worries, and feel angry and sad. Deliberately considering your feelings and coping strategies, and focusing on which ones truly help you feel better, is a skill that you can learn and practice. Helping others and giving thanks are positive ways to cope with feelings. We can also find and expand our feelings of joy, take time to celebrate, and engage in activities that we love and enjoy. Staying connected with our friends, making new ones, and having contact are essential, and we can plan, get creative, and have fun.
Please stay tuned and look for updates from the Health and Wellness Team that will help get everyone on a great path.
Your Health & Wellness Team
Should you have any questions, concerns, ideas, or input, please feel free to contact the members of the Health and Wellness Team at the emails below.
Dr. Amber Hayes, Psychologist & Director of Wellness email@example.com
Lynn Jeffries, RN, BSN, School Nurse firstname.lastname@example.org
Cathy Walters, MS, LAT, ATC, CSCS, Athletic Trainer email@example.com