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Tips and tricks for lockdown

What to expect on level 3 of COVID-19 lockdown

The country moves into level 3 of the lockdown and here’s a list of some of the do’s and don’ts.

Everything on this list must adhere to health protocols.

Allowed:

  • Wholesale and retail stores
  • All clothing sales
  • All appliance sales
  • Sale of alcohol from Monday to Thursday between 9:00 and 17:00
  • Online sale of alcohol and delivery only from Monday to Thursday between 9:00 and 17:00
  • Domestic air travel for work purposes (permit/letter from employer required)
  • Funerals limited to 50 people
  • Church services limited to 50 people
  • Return of domestic workers
  • Exercising between 6:00 and 18:00
  • Return to school for grades 7 and 12 (subject to change)
  • Drive-through and pick-up services

Not allowed:

  • Movement across provincial, district and metro boundaries or declared coronavirus hotspots (permit required)
  • Sale of tobacco products
  • Social gatherings (including visiting friends and family)
  • Opening of gyms and sports clubs
  • Opening of shebeens, bars, nightclubs, cinemas and theatres
  • On-site consumption of alcohol (home consumption only)
  • Conferences
  • Opening of hair, nail and beauty salons
  • Access to beaches or parks
  • Opening of guesthouses, hotels and casinos

All citizens are still required to wear masks/cloth coverings in public spaces, practice social distancing and follow other health protocols.

Here’s the full list.


Mental health during COVID-19 isolation

Isolation can take an immense toll on your psyche; add on top of that, bills, loss of income and fear for your health, and the COVID-19 lockdown can bring you to the brink of mental meltdown. It goes without saying that those with mental illnesses should take extra care, however, those who consider themselves mentally healthy should not ignore or downplay signs and symptoms of acute depression and anxiety.

These may include the following:

  • Low mood
  • Insomnia
  • Sleeping too much
  • Nightmares
  • Unwanted memories
  • Dry mouth
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Panic attacks
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased appetite
  • Not enjoying activities that you enjoyed before

For those who do suffer from mental illness, Prof Renata Schoeman, board member of the Psychiatry Management Group (PsychMG) has advised that it is vital to remain well and stable by keeping up with treatment and avoiding the need for hospitalisation when healthcare resources are already stretched by the impact of COVID-19. This is not only to limit possible exposure to the coronavirus if patients need to be hospitalised for a psychiatric condition, but also because medications such as mood stabilisers and anti-psychotics “cannot easily, if at all, be continued should they require admission to ICU and especially should they require ventilation.”

CIPLA advises:

  • Maintain a daily routine.
  • Restrict media and social media coverage to prevent it from becoming too overwhelming. Only obtain information from credible news sources.
  • Acknowledge your feelings and focus on things you can control.
  • Find things to keep you busy (whether it’s constructive or creative) to help lift your mood.
  • Stay connected with your loved ones via technology.
  • If you’re on medication, remember to take it as prescribed.

Telehealth services:

  • South African Depression Anxiety Group (SADAG): 0800 21 22 23 / 0800 70 80 90. SADAG WhatsApp support (9 am-4 pm): 076 882 2775 / or SMS 31393 or 32312 and a counsellor will call you back.
  • Lifeline South Africa: 0861 322 322
  • Department of Health: 060 012 3456 (WhatsApp “hi” for access to comprehensive COVID-19 information).
  • National Institute for Communicable Diseases toll-free COVID-19 hotline: 0800 0299 299

Online interventions:

Everyone OK is a Belgium website designed for improving mental health during the COVID-19 lockdown. It is a thorough and comprehensive exercise in determining and addressing mental health for adults and children. https://www.everyoneok.be/

Mental health is essential and, thus, all psychiatric facilities and practitioners are accessible at all lockdown levels.


Tips and tricks for home schooling during lockdown

Most students will not be returning to school on 1 June, which means that parents and guardians are heading into their third month of home schooling. Parents were thrust into the role of teacher without much time for preparations or even the necessary resources for the demanding task. Moreover, the obstacles are even greater for parents who are considered essential workers and cannot stay home to help with schoolwork. I spoke to a few parents and educators to get their views on the current predicament.

Parents

From speaking to parents, it has become clear that high school learners are able to work more independently that primary school learners. However, this does not mean that high school learners don’t need help from a parent every now and then.

Understanding the work

The first problem parents face is the know-how to help their children, even those in primary school who have objectively easier work but need more parental assistance. The is especially true when it comes to subjects that require understanding (instead of remembering) and there are a few ways parents approach this. Some parents attempt to apply their existing knowledge of the subject and try to figure out what is to be understood. Others scour their children’s textbooks to attain a better understanding themselves and look for examples to help their children. Furthermore, parents have realized that Google is their friend and almost any explanation or tutorial can be found through a Google or YouTube search. However, when all else fails, there are other methods parents turn to. These include directly contacting teachers and making use of tutors via Zoom or Skype.

Routine

Many parents have echoed that routine is the key to success. This means getting children out of bed in the morning, requiring them to jump out of their pyjamas and get started on the work they were sent for the day or week. Depending on the school, work either gets sent through on Mondays (a week’s worth) or on a daily basis between 8:00 and 12:00. For those waiting for work to be sent, they prefer to start their ‘school day’ in the early afternoon when school would typically have ended. For other parents, their preference is getting their children out of bed at about 9:00 and letting them do their work for the day for a few hours. Parent typically don’t expect their children to work more than an hour on one subject.

Parents who have to work during the day have their own challenges. They need to heavily rely on their children having the discipline to carry out their own routine. These parents address this by phoning their children during the day and doing revision with their children when they get home.

Internet access

School work has to be access online either on a PC or smartphone. Teachers send though documents and videos for children to use to get their work done. This often poses a problem for households who do not have unlimited data, making daily tasks quite expensive. There is no quick-fix for this but educators do have suggestions.

Teachers

Teachers are very understanding when it comes to the various troubles parents face during this time. Those I have spoken to have given very valuable advice.

  1. Routine is essential. For those parents who struggle with setting up a workable routine or for learners overwhelmed with where to start with their work, it has been suggested that learners follow their regular school timetable to determine which subjects to work on.
  2. Cooperation between parent and child is important. For peak productivity, a routine that works for everyone needs to be worked out; parents should communicate with their children and vice versa.
  3. Remove all distractions (with the exception of the technology the child needs to work) and provided a neat and dedicated workspace for children.
  4. Communicate with teachers if you feel you don’t have the resources to complete the necessary work. Teachers have great compassion and are willing to give alternative methods to continue learning. These often include simply following the work in the textbook as set out at the beginning of the year/semester. Children can WhatsApp with friends if they need assistance that a parent cannot provide and if work cannot be completed at all, it’s advised that children read. Reading with comprehension is a skill that is sorely lacking in schools and developing that skill during this time is invaluable.
  5. The government and internet/network service providers have made various resources available which include YouTube videos, TV programmes, radio stations and zero-rated (no data required) websites. Find all information here.
  6. The most important advice is not to stress. Teachers understand the issues learners face and when they return to school, extensive recapping will be done.

On a final note, children might not show it or want to talk about it but physical distancing from friends, social activities and lack of play with friends can all take a toll despite virtual interactions. Here are some things parents can do:

  1. Talk to them about what’s going on. Find out how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking about. Let them know it’s okay to feel scared or unsure and try to answer their questions and reassure them in an age appropriate manner. Remember, you do not need to know all the answers but talking things through can help them feel calmer.
  2. Help them to reflect on how they’re feeling and encourage them to think about the things they can do to make them feel safer and less worried.
  3. Reassure them that this will pass, you’re there for them and you will get through this together.
  4. Spend time doing a positive activity with your child (such as reading, playing, painting or cooking) to help reassure them and reduce their anxiety. This is also a great way of providing a space for them to talk through their concerns, without having a ‘big chat’.
  5. Keep as many regular routines as possible, so that your child feels safe and that things are stable.
  6. Parents should also encourage their children to exercise.

Please visit the Department of Education website. It offers some great advice and resources.

Chanté van Biljon 


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