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Coronavirus - The Precautions We Are Taking

Otto hospital at How we Montessori

The media has been full of information about the Coronavirus. A lot of the discussion I've been hearing is from overseas. So I wanted to share a little about what we are doing about the Coronavirus here in Sydney. Our schools are open and are operating normally. All of the children's sporting events are going ahead, my children still have weekly training and matches. We are keeping our children informed in an age appropriate way and are taking a few extra precautions like more considered hand-washing.

Our Activities

We don't live with or have regular contact with elderly or immunosuppressed relatives or friends, so Otto and I are still attending events and classes as normal. Our classes are small in size (less than 20 people) and our decision to go might change next week. Our art class for example (pictured above) was busy, it doesn't look like other parents are staying home. Caspar still went to school camp and we are still out and about in our community. As mentioned our children's school and sporting events are going ahead as usual. After school and on the weekend my children are still playing as normally with neighbourhood friends. In Australia it has been mostly large scale events with 500+ people that have been cancelled. We have cancelled plans to travel during the upcoming school holidays and will be staying local, we still hope to visit some local attractions.

Social Distancing

We are slowly starting to refrain from hugging and shaking hands of friends and acquaintances, in some cases this is because of policies coming into effect at schools and classes. My school age children are aware of this and we've discussed not tackling, hugging (kissing) and sharing food with classmates. Although through sport they are in close contact with others. It often feels awkward not to hug friends and I am attempting to be more aware of my natural tendencies to hug or shake hands. 

Hand-washing, Using Hand Sanitiser

We know one of the ways we can keep ourselves safe is by hand-washing with soap. We've been teaching our children about good hygiene and we have been supervising their hand-washing. If we have been out of the house we assist Otto (2yrs) with hand-washing - he washes his hands then we help and wash his hands for him. Caspar (12yrs) catches public transport to and from school. He uses hand sanitiser after each bus ride and then washes his hands at school, during school and when he gets home. We've also spoken about not touching our faces as often but I feel this is really difficult for children to become aware of enough to take action. We are also often reinforcing good hygiene practices with the children like sneezing in elbows, disposing of tissues and not sharing food, eating utensils, not putting pencils/pens in their mouth.

Keeping Informed

Most importantly I am staying alert to school emails, newsletters and forms. I am like everyone else, following the news but I am generally avoiding non-factual information and articles online. Otis (8yrs) watched a brief show about the virus (on BTN) at school regarding the virus but hasn't received any formal information. Perhaps this will change but the virus news isn't heavily impacting or dominating the children's discussions at home. 

I have a science degree in Environmental Health which is particularly relevant in these times, so it's been interesting to get into some of the details with the children when/while they are interested. I really feel the Montessori way of handling this is in a scientific, evidence based way. This can be a good time to delve deeper into topics like:

  • disease transmission
  • immunology
  • how we can boost our immunity
  • how viruses work (!!)
  • what is an outbreak, epidemic and pandemic
  • what is the difference between bacteria and a virus
  • how viruses survive and how we can kill them
  • how to make homemade hand sanitiser
  • what is a Coronavirus (corona=crown in latin)

It is in my nature to make these topics fun and exciting, but I would understand if you feel it wasn't in the best interests of your children or if you feel it could increase your child's anxiety. If you have children home from school, I would consider some child-led, project-based activities.  

Older children may find these useful:

I also recommend reading Talking To Children About The Uncertainties Of Life: Updated Coronavirus at Forest Bluff School.

Stockpiling/Stocking Up

As we have just moved into our house our cupboards were feeling very light. We have made sure to stock up and have a little extra food, perhaps almost two weeks worth, although I really don't want to put it to the test. We now have extra pasta, canned food like tuna and beans, cereal and frozen fruits and vegetables. We usually buy toilet paper and tissues in bulk through Who Give A Crap and have plenty on hand. Although online orders are now harder to place (usually we can order same day, now it's a couple of days out for Harris Farms, it's over a week's wait for Coles) we could still use them and there are tons of reliable food delivery services in Sydney.

Overall we are staying informed but not overwhelmed. We are going to our usual events and are being extra careful with hand-washing and not having as close contact (touching) with friends. I am being mindful that schools may close and are starting to consider what our days may look like.

I apologise for the light posting last week and over the weekend. I was initially overwhelmed with unpacking our UK freight and then Otto had an unfortunate fall and needed treatment in hospital. He is home now and is fine, but he is missing a front tooth. I have a full weeks worth of posts coming this week that I hope you will enjoy.

Let me know if you need anything from me. Do you need more Coronavirus posts (what to tell the kids, teaching good hygiene, activities to do at home, science projects) or would you prefer business as usual?

This post was last updated Monday 16th March 2020. 

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