Parents are giving overwhelming positive feedback and are very appreciative of the programmes, guidance and support. They share videos of their children doing the activities and ask for advice. Staff then have access to professionals to advise them if any specific guidance is required. From the beginning of the lockdown period which commenced March 24 until April 24, 2020 (one month into lockdown), Special Education and Care Centres have made contact with 154 parents of the 184 learners enrolled at their centres. Staff have also checked in with some of the parents with whom we do not have virtual contact to see if they are using the home programme, which was sent to all parents prior the lockdown, and provide any support as required.
“We start our day with the morning ring and from there our child’s day is planned. With the daily activities we do ensure that our child’s mind stays active and it is so easy for them to forget what their teachers teach them. And by practicing these activities at home we can see if it really helps our children or not and with that we can see what works for our kids. The teacher and parents can work together to ensure they come up with the best possible routine for their child.” - WhatsApp message from parent
We have also sought ongoing input, support, advice and guidance from the professional teams working at the Provincial Western Cape Department of Education who have been included on our parent WhatsApp groups. These teams include occupational therapists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, special needs educators and educational psychologists. They have been very supportive so far.
“Education is important and you are doing amazing things, but besides education the parents know they can rely on you in all aspects of life, not just education, if they need help with anything, whether it be rebooking health appointments or trying to sort out food packages! This is massive and definitely deserves so much credit!” - WhatsApp message from Department of Education team member
During this time, it is important to have very clear leadership and guidance on what is required from staff. Plans and innovative activities should be recorded to share with other service providers as needed.
Mental health should be a high priority during the crisis, and we are breaking new ground in providing innovative, remote and relevant mental health services in response to the pandemic. Even though there are challenges and barriers, the COVID-19 crisis offers us the opportunity to think creatively about service delivery during crisis times and turn challenges into opportunities.
- #HealthyAtHope - Healthy parenting during COVID-19 (WHO) [Link]
- "My Hero is You" Storybook for children 6-11 years-old affected by COVID-19. Available in many languages (WHO) [Link]
- COVID-19 response: Considerations for Children and Adults with Disabilities (UNICEF) [Link]
- Considerations of increased risk (Pan African Network of Persons with Psychosocial Disabilities) [Link]
- Mental Health and Psychosocial Support for Staff, Volunteers and Communities in an Outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (IFRC) [Link]
- Basic psychological support for staff health doctors and nurses (ICRC) [Link]