Department of Support Services
Psychological Services & School Social Work
Support for COVID-19
Resources for teachers, parents and students are available here during this time of need.
We understand what you are going through as parents, teachers, and guardians. We are here to help. Please contact any of the Support Services staff through email to get assistance if needed.
Family + Child Connections
During COVID-19The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has begun to impact every part of our lives, including our schools, day care centers, familial routines, and mental wellbeing. With schools closed, in attempts to curb the spread, many families are adjusting to this new normal. Developing a new sense of normalcy during uncertain times can help ease anxiety and promote heightened senses of wellbeing. In an effort to help quell those anxieties and provide a sense of normalcy, we want to share with you some Family + Child Connection resources that are freely available to the public. Visit us at www.mhageorgia.org/COVID-19 for additional resources. If you know of any additional resources please share them at firstname.lastname@example.org to share it with our audience.
HandwashingYes, handwashing is very important right now! Keeping hands clean is one of the most important things we can do to stop the spread of respiratory illnesses like flu and COVID-19. Please check out this guide to learn how to properly wash your hands.
Make it fun! Sing your child's favorite song with them for at least 20 seconds while you scrub, or try creating a game around it. Another great way to incorporate more handwashing is to incorporate it into your routine.
- Wash your hands often with soap + water
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose + mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Get a flu shot!
- Clean + disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as counters, door knobs, desks, keyboards, tablets and phones.
How to Explain the Coronavirus Crisis to YouthThis is an uncertain, and potentially scary, time for children. Here are a couple of things you can do to ease your child's fears. PBS Kids offers some practical advice:
Here are some resources you can use to talk to your kids about Coronavirus and how to stay safe:
- Don’t be afraid to discuss the coronavirus. Many children have already heard about it, so don't avoid talking about it. That can actually make kids worry more. This is an opportunity to talk about facts and filter the news to your child.
- Be developmentally appropriate. Don't volunteer too much information. Instead, try to answer your child's questions. Do your best to be honest and clear. If you don't know, that's okay. Being available is what matters the most.
- Take your cues from your child. Ask your child if they have any questions and invite them to tell you what they may have heard and how they feel. You want to be prepared to answer (but not prompt) questions.
- Deal with your own anxiety. Kids pick up on your feelings. Take some time to calm down before trying to have a conversation or answer your child’s questions.
- Be reassuring. Children may hear enough to make them worry that they'll catch it. Reassure them by telling them the best way to stay well is to wash their hands and cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze.
- Focus on what you’re doing to stay safe. An important way to reassure kids is to emphasize the safety precautions that you are taking. We know that the coronavirus is transmitted mostly by coughing and touching surfaces. The CDC recommends thoroughly washing your hands as the primary means of staying healthy. So remind kids that they are taking care of themselves by washing their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds (or the length of two “Happy Birthday” songs) when they come in from outside, before they eat, and after blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing or using the bathroom. Here's a fun activity to show kids WHY it is important to wash your hands.
- Stick to routine. This is particularly important if your child’s school or daycare shuts down. Make sure you are taking care of the basics just like you would during a spring break or summer vacation. Structured days with regular mealtimes and bedtimes are an essential part of keeping kids happy and healthy.
Online Educational ResourcesBeginning March 18th, all Georgia public schools will close til at least April 24th. During this relatively unexpected disruption to the school schedule as well as most activity centers many of us are grappling with how to preoccupy our children. Here a list of some free online resources, from our partner, Voice's for Georgia's Children.
For more resources check out our website, under the children's tab.
- If your kids love reading, check out the classic literature available free electronically through Project Gutenberg.
- The American Chemical Society provides a complete chemistry curriculum for multiple age groups.
- Check out some of the lesson plans from the National Endowment for the Humanities' Edsitement.
- NASA has printable STEM workbooks for several grade levels.
- National Geographic Kids has a lot of free resources, too.
- Scholastic Learn at Home is providing 20 days’ worth of learning assets free during coronavirus restrictions.
- In addition, check out the options from Outschool.com, ProdigyGame.com, and KhanAcademy.org.
- Does your kid love money? This would be a great time to teach them about personal finance. InCharge.org offers lesson plans for multiple grade levels.
- The American Federation of Teachers has a wealth of resources to help with learning at home.
- For the little ones, Kinedu, a baby development app, is offering their premium subscription for free until April 15.
- Get outside! Kids can learn everywhere. Check out these resources from Outdoor Classroom Day.
GA Public Library SystemWhile libraries are closed, the whole family can still use digital resources available at their library. Whether it's working on a school assignment, doing research, or simply going a new skill, your library has easy-to-use resources available. Just sign in from your desktop, laptop or mobile device. Check out all of their free resources here.
Keeping Kids Physically ActiveDue to the coronavirus outbreak, schools across the country have closed, athletic activities have been canceled and recreation facilities have been shuttered. However, there are plenty of fun and creative ways to keep moving our bodies while we spend more time at home. Follow this link to read about 10 ways to keep your kids moving from Kidshealth.org.
Managing Your Own StressThe outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Furthermore, children take cues from their caregivers' stress and anxiety and respond similarly. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. Read more here from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC).
DBT Skills for a PandemicWe are in the midst of a global health crisis none of us have ever faced before. It is normal that we are all feeling more anxious. It makes sense that our threat systems are activated as we face a lot of uncertainty about the future and hear stories from around the globe of illness and death. We are all being asked to stay home as much as possible, and this may mean that some of us will be much more alone and isolated than usual. For others, it might mean we are spending more time with family with whom we find ourselves in conflict. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills help us to be more mindful, more effective in our relationships, regulate our emotions, tolerate our distress, and accept reality as it is. Click on this link, from the Psychiatry Department of Augusta University, to read about specific ways you can use DBT skills to help you face this current crisis.
Resources for Food Insecure FamiliesAlmost 1.2 million children depend on the National School Lunch Program here in Georgia, another 650 thousand depend on school breakfasts. During this interruption to the school year, many children do not know when their next meal will be.The USDA has approved two waivers, submitted by the Georgia Department of Education, to extend alternate meal service flexibility. This will allow schools to serve students' meals through USDA-approved meal service options, at state-approved sites throughout the community.Check out 11ALIVE's report on where to find your county's closest meal service option for school children.Click here to find your closest food bank.You can also text "FindFood" or "Comida" to 888-976-2232to find your local food pantry.
Resources for Immediate Response
- Georgia Crisis & Access Line For immediate access to routine or crisis services, please call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL) at 1-800-715-4225. GCAL is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year to help you or someone you care for in a crisis.
- Disaster Distress Helpline Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.The Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH) provides crisis counseling and support for anyone in the U.S. experiencing distress or other behavioral health concerns related to any natural or human-caused disaster, including public health emergencies.
- Crisis Text Line Text MHA to 741741 and you’ll be connected to a trained Crisis Counselor. Crisis Text Line provides free, text-based support 24/7
- The Trevor Project Call 1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678678. A national 24-hour, toll free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth.
- Dial 2-1-1 If you need assistance finding food, paying for housing bills, accessing free childcare, or other essential services, visit 211.org or dial 211 to speak to someone who can help. Run by the United Way.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline For any victims and survivors who need support, call 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-799-7233 for TTY, or if you’re unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.
Contact COVID-19 hotlineThe State of Georgia has a new COVID-19 hotline. If you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, please contact your primary care doctor, an urgent care clinic, or your local federally qualified healthcare center.Please do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility.
Support Services Contacts
Gina Hudson, Coordinator
Shellie Zanatta, Lead Social Worker
You can also contact your School Social Worker or School Psychologist directly from the contact information. Click on the Psychological Services or Social Work pages on the LEFT Index.