When Things Are Different Because of a Virus
(This was written in late Spring, 2020, in collaboration with a young friend, to help students in my practice identify and discuss some of the changes happening in their lives due to COVID. The underlined parts were treated this way so that parents, teachers, and other adults could easily identify which parts to customize, with a child's input.)
My name is ______. I am 10 years old, and I live in Vancouver, BC with my mom, my dad, and my brother. Usually, I go to school, play soccer, and sometimes I go to birthday parties, have playdates, or go on airplane trips.
But recently, because there is a new kind of virus called a coronavirus, things are different. For most people this virus is not so serious, especially for most kids. But some people are getting really sick from it. To keep people from accidentally spreading germs, there are some changes we have to make for a while to help keep everyone safer.
One big change is that we are not going to school right now! If a lot of kids and teachers are in a crowded classroom or hallway, the virus could spread from one person to another, even if nobody is feeling sick. So, all of the kids are staying out of school and learning online. Some of the ways we learn online are through Zoom, SeeSaw, BrainPop, and Pixton. It feels different to go to school on a computer or iPad instead of a classroom. It feels different for teachers too.
What I don’t like about it is that I don’t get to see my friends, go on my class trip, play at recess, I don’t get to sit with my friends while we talk at lunch. What I do like about it is that we don’t have to hurry in the mornings to get to school, and I get to stay in my pajamas.
Another big change is that we need to stay at home instead of going bowling, meeting my friends at the park, or doing other things we usually like to do with other people. The reason is, even if someone doesn’t seem sick, they could still have this virus, and other people could catch it from the germs in their coughs or on their hands. This is very different, and it feels disorganized, lonely, and boring.
A smaller change is this: Because it is important to be extra careful right now to avoid passing germs to other people, we are supposed to wash our hands a lot. Sometimes we even have to re-wash our hands because we touched something germy! This can be pretty frustrating, especially when I just washed a minute ago.
One thing I can try is telling somebody how I really feel about these changes. It’s OK if I feel different ways at different times. I can remember that I am allowed to have my own feelings.
Another thing I can do is to enjoy playing cards, riding my skateboard, and reading with my family.
Finally, I can remind myself once in a while that I am helping by being a protector of older people like my grandparents, and other people whose immune systems might have a harder time fighting off this virus, like my mom, who has MS, and my Uncle Lucas. This is a pretty big and important job, learning to deal with things being different so that we can all be safer and healthier.