COVID-19 and wellbeing

As children return to school, our priority is their health and wellbeing.

Encouraging children back to school at alert level 1

Everyone will be pleased that there are no longer any restrictions on our day to day lives and together as a country we have worked together to protect New Zealanders health.

Be aware though, some families and children will still be anxious about returning to school.

Their lives under lockdown may have changed and/or they may still need more time to adjust to the news that we are at level 1, that everyone is safe, and school is safe. You can help by continuing to welcome families back, and contact families that have not returned, to see what they need.

Keep reinforcing the messages that early learning services and schools are safe, and they are the best place for children and young people to be playing, interacting and learning alongside their friends and teachers.

We developed some guidance for teachers to support student wellbeing when everyone went back to school under alert level 2, this advice is still relevant under alert level 1 for children and young people that have yet to return:

Wellbeing guidance for teachers under alert level 2

Some children may still need additional support at school

Take notice of:

  • children who refuse to go to school
  • periods of absence or increased sickness
  • changes in behaviours that don’t settle or are out of character.

We have developed tip sheets for teachers to support children who may be at-risk and to support conversations with parents and whānau

Tips for teachers – what to notice and how to respond

Tips for teachers – talking to parents if their children need extra support

For children with a disability

All schools and early learning centres including day special schools, residential special schools, satellite units and learning support units opened from 18 May.

Resource Teachers:Learning and Behaviour (RTLB), Resource Teachers: Deaf and Resource Teachers:Vision are available. Children and young people with a disability or learning support should be back at school to learn alongside their friends and see their teachers again, unless they have an underlying health condition, are sick or are isolating.

For children who can’t be in school it will be important to keep online learning going.

Schools should continue to talk with their whānau about when their children will return to school, and how they might be supported until they return. It might be possible for a teacher aide to continue to work in a different way with the child, either in their home or remotely if possible. Continue to plan together for the support that will be important to keep a child’s learning progressing.

Be aware of the families and whānau that continue to experience additional stress or anxiety. Where they are involved, Ministry specialists will work with you to enable a careful, planned transition where needed.

In addition, Awhi@home is a parent-led Facebook page supported by IHC and partners including the Ministry of Education and Explore services. Awhi@home provides support for parents with disabled children and posts include tools, resources and videos addressing common challenges.

Go to Awhi@home on Facebook(external link) 

Share this page with parents as needed. The page aims to increase parents' ability to cope through providing parenting strategies and tips, links to useful resources, information on Covid-19 and one-on-one support. 

Preventing harm from bullying, racism and discrimination

Every learner has the right to a safe, healthy and supportive learning environment, where they are accepted and respected, and an education that values their identity, language and culture, and those of their family and whānau. It’s important to remember that if bullying occurs for whatever reason, bullying prevention is everyone’s responsibility.

Keep encouraging tolerance and respect and kindness for each other:

  • Some individuals may choose to wear face masks, as it is part of their cultural practice to do so to support their hygiene needs.
  • Encourage respect - people are being proactive in keeping themselves and families safe.
  • Where children and students are not respected, or treated fairly, or discriminated against - respond fairly and effectively.
  • Speak out against negative behaviours, including negative statements on social media about groups of people, or exclusion of people who pose no risk from regular activities.

You may find some of the information on the Bullying Free NZ website useful in supporting your children and students and creating a culture of support at this time:

Bullying Free NZ(external link)

Race-based abuse

If you experience race-based abuse or it is brought to your attention, whether online or in the community, you can seek help from Netsafe or the Human Rights Commission.

This kind of behaviour is absolutely unacceptable, and we encourage anyone experiencing discrimination to make a complaint.

More information can be found on the Netsafe page on race-based online abuse and New Zealand Human Rights Commission website:

Race-based online abuse – NetSafe(external link)

Making a complaint – New Zealand Human Rights Commission(external link)

Webinars for wellbeing

The Ministry has hosted a suite of wellbeing webinars.

The topics covered teacher wellbeing, child and whānau wellbeing with the transition back to early learning services, supporting whānau and children with learning support needs to return to school/study at home, and more.

On 15 May, over 900 teachers and others tuned in to watch the first episode of the wellbeing webinar series.

Professor McNaughton, Associate Professor Melinda Webber, educators Raiha Johnson and Jason Swann, and student Maya Edmunds, talked about the diverse perspectives of hauora and wellbeing. You can watch the webinar on Vimeo livestream.

COVID-19 Wellbeing Guide

We encourage schools and kura to draw on and share the COVID-19 Wellbeing Guide. It has been created to help teachers, parents/caregivers and whānau as they support the hauora/wellbeing of their children and young people.

The Guide was developed by clinical psychologist Julie McCormack, with support from Future Curious Limited. The third module is focused on preparing for the return to school:

Read the COVID-19 Health and Wellbeing guide – Learning from Home website(external link)

Ministry of Health Melon app

The Ministry of Health has a variety of support, tools and resources to help young people manage anxiety due to the uncertainty and change caused by COVID-19.

The Melon app is an example of an online tool that offers help as part of the COVID-19 response.  Melon has been ramping up content specific to young people which can be found at melonhealth.com/manual(external link)

The Ministry of Health will soon be adding new resources including videos and an Anxiety Toolkit course. This five-session course is aimed at the 13+ age group and focuses on learning how to accept yourself, build confidence and manage emotions to help get through tough times.

Getting Through Together resources

The All Right Organisation have produced a range of resources to support getting through tough times. These resources are great for everyone (parents, teachers, young people and children). In tough times, we all feel a range of emotions. This new series from their Getting Through Together campaign reminds us that these changing emotions are totally normal – and that however we may be feeling right now, we're not alone. It contains a set of eight posters found here(external link). Check out their other great resources.

Getting Through Together — All Right? website(external link)

New education funding to address wellbeing needs as a result of COVID-19

The Government has announced a $66 million package in new funding to support the immediate wellbeing of our learners and educators as a result of COVID-19.

The package includes a $50 million Urgent Response Fund. This will provide immediate support to centre-based early learning services, schools and kura to improve attendance, and to help manage any learning, social, emotional, mental, or other child and youth wellbeing needs directly related to COVID-19. Another $16 million is to support educator wellbeing for the employees of publicly funded early learning services, kōhanga reo, school and kura and their familiesFor more information, go to the news story: $66 million for learner and educator wellbeing.

 

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