In the past few weeks, since the onset of COVID-19 (coronavirus), the new buzz words are “social distancing” and “self-isolation.”

Social distancing means not shaking hands or giving hugs, avoiding crowds (of more than 10 people), standing several feet (the recommendation is 6) from other people and staying home if you are sick.

People exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus or have come in contact with someone who has been diagnosed, are asked to self-isolate or stay at home and avoid contact with anyone. And, call your doctor or the hospital before you go in so they can take precautions.

Why is this important?  A person’s individual risk may be low, but social distancing could keep a person at high risk from getting the virus. The country is trying to avoid a surge of people needing to be hospitalized at the same time. Coronavirus is a threat to the community, not necessarily to the individual. Our health officials want us to take precautions now, so the situation here doesn’t become dire in a few weeks.

Each day this week, the numbers have increased by about 39%, which mirrors what has happened around the country. Late Wednesday, the number of positive cases was 64 and was 119 by Thursday afternoon.

Homeschool

Families all across the country are learning to homeschool, as schools have closed to keep coronavirus from spreading.

It’s a challenge as parents and caregivers are trying on new “hats.” Veteran homeschool educator, Gretchen Griffin, who homeschools her three boys, Jude, 12, Asher, 10 and Amos, 7, encourages parents to work collaboratively with their children to come up with a plan for the homeschool day and  let them have some input.

“You don’t have to recreate the classroom at home,” she says, “Give them the freedom that school at home can afford you—read outside or in a tree or on the couch; spread out your lessons on the floor instead of a table; work at the time of day that fits you and your child. Maybe you play outside all morning and buckle down to school in the afternoon or after dinner. You’ll be surprised how much your child can accomplish in a short, focused time period. Then give them the rest of the day to be in the yard, or to be creative in their free time.”

She also recommended “starting the day with something delightful that you all enjoy, a card game, a read-aloud book or drawing time. It sets the tone for the day. Everyone starts with some good feelings and you can get to work with a smile. Especially focus on giving attention to the youngest children first, so that their little love tanks get filled.”

Mulberry-Fairplains fifth grade teacher Belinda Marino, 2016 Wilkes County Teacher of the Year, also had good tips for parents. “Have a schedule for the kiddos,” she said, but be sure to let them have “brain breaks,” during the day.

 Schedules are available online on the Khan Academy website, Marino said.  (I looked it up and it’s at the top on the banner.)

Right now, Marino said, teachers have sent home packets for students  to review content. Reviewing is crucial, she said, because teachers don’t want their students to have any gaps in learning. It’s also vitally important for parents to communicate with their child’s teacher. “Reach out if you need assistance,” she said, and emphasized, “teachers and parents must work together.”

Marino also emphasized the school feeding programs. Each school in the county has one, so no child goes hungry while schools are closed. Call your child’s school, Marino said, if you can’t get to the school or to one of the community meal stops. All the stops are listed on the Wilkes County Schools website.

Another great resource while schools are closed is the Wilkes County Public Library. Patrons can reserve books online by using library card numbers and drive to the library and pick them up. Library staff will come out to the car and bring the books to you.

If you don’t have a library card, you can fill out a form on the library website, and show identification when you pick up the books. Students can check out books online using their school identification number and pin number. Anyone having trouble with this service can call the library at 336-838-2818 for assistance.

Encouraging all parents, Griffin added, “You were thrown into the deep end, but just keep swimming. You got this!”

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