Wellness tips, resources for children during COVID-19

Wolf Creek Public Schools counsellors available to help

While life starts to get back to normal in some ways, with Phase I of Alberta’s reopening begun on May 14, kids will have to remain home for the rest of the school year and the summer, and that may mean an increase in stress and anxiety for many children.

At the start of the sixth week since schools closed across the province, Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange made the official announcement on May 6 that schools would not be re-opening until the fall.

In these unprecedented times, Barb Reaney, director of inclusive learning services for Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS), says parents may have experienced stress and anxiety coming out in different ways in their children that they haven’t seen before.

WCPS employs social workers as their in-school counsellors. Reaney is a social worker that supervises a team of 20 WCPS counsellors.

The different changes over the last couple of months may have been disruptive to the family as a whole, says Reaney.

Behaviours parents may be seeing include sadness from the isolation from their friends, teachers and school staff members.

Likewise, some students may be finding doing school from home more challenging, while others may be excited to interact with their teacher and other students online and learn in a different way.

Students and families all have different needs unique to their situations and different strengths, says Reaney.

“I think it’s just really important to know it’s O.K. to reach out for support and assistance,” she said.

“We’re in unique times.”

WCPS social workers continue to be available to students and families and Reaney encourages them to reach out.

A counsellor can provide strategies, resources, one-on-one counselling and advocate to connect to community agencies. To reach a WCPS counsellor, contact your school.

WCPS’ website also has a resource page for parents under the COVID-19 tab that includes tools and strategies on how to cope and support students’ emotional needs.

There are apps, articles on supports and information on how to communicate and stay connected as well.

In the meantime, Reaney says WCPS is working to update the webpage and is planning on a variety of ways to get information, including strategies and resources, out to parents.

Supports available

The Government of Alberta has an education line for parents to help address their questions about managing at-home learning, particularly for parents of children with disabilities.

Access the help line by calling 780-422-6548 (toll-free by first dialing 310-0000) or emailing studentsupport@gov.ab.ca.

Young people needing support can access the Kids Help Phone 24-7 for professional counselling, information and referrals, by texting CONNECT to 686868.

Other resources on how to handle stressful situations and ways to talk to children about COVID-19 are available on alberta.ca/covid19.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) also has a website that provide tips on how to manage stress and talking to children about the coronavirus, ahs.ca/helpintoughtimes.

AHS recommends a couple of videos on their YouTube Channel, “Mental Health Moments” with Dr. Nicholas Mitchell on positive role modelling and building family resilience.

Protecting children and families

In a recent release, ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection reminded parents about the need to closely monitor their children’s internet activity.

There has been an increase in cases of online child exploitation since the lockdown began, likely in part due to the increase of reliance on technology.

In March, ICE received 243 reported instances of online child exploitation in Alberta — far exceeding the unit’s two-year average of about 110.

“With children being home from school, not only are they spending more time online, but it appears that so are the predators,” said Supt. Dwayne Lakusta, ALERT CEO in the release.

“They are looking to take advantage of our most vulnerable population: our kids.”

Visit protectchildren.ca for information on keeping children safe online.

To report a child exploitation offence, contact local police or cybertip.ca.

READ MORE: Advocates worry pandemic’s ‘perfect storm’ puts more kids at risk for abuse

“During this time of unprecedented stress on families, children and youth who are at risk need to know there is help available,” said Rebecca Shulz, Minister of Children’s Services, in a release.

“If you, or children you know are being neglected, abused or sexually exploited, call the Child Abuse Hotline. Assistance is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in multiple languages. We need to look out for one another, now more than ever.”

The toll-free, 24-7 number for the Child Abuse Hotline is 1-800-387-KIDS (5437).

For anonymous help for family violence, call the 24-hour Family Violence Information Line at 310-1818.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusHealth and wellness

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo)
Alberta records 410 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).
Firewood shortage in central Alberta caused by rising demand, gaps in supply

‘I’ve said “No” to more people than ever’: firewood seller

Front-line hospital workers have walked off the job at the Rimbey Hospital, and across the province. Photo Submitted
Front-line health care workers on strike across the province, including Rimbey Hospital

The strike is due to cut of 11,000 health care jobs in the province, according to AUPE

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed more than 1,000 cases over the weekend Monday afternoon. File photo
COVID-19: Central zone active cases up Monday

‘We’ve now crossed the tipping point,’ says Hinshaw

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Husky Energy logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Husky pipeline spills 900,000 litres of produced water in northwestern Alberta

The energy regulator says environmental contractors are at the site

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Sharon Hickin, general manager of the Days Inn Sylvan Lake and the new Lake House Diner, poses for a photo outside the new restaurant. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
Pandemic puts extra hurdles in place for new Sylvan Lake businesses

Over the past seven months numerous new businesses have opened in Sylvan Lake, despite the pandemic

file photo
Maskwacis RCMP investigate pedestrian fatality

Collision on Highway 2A causing fatality still under investigation.

Rachel Notley, leader of Alberta’s official Opposition, speaks in Edmonton on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Notley says the government needs to sharply ramp up the number of contact tracers if it wants to get a handle on the rising number of COVID-19 cases. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Opposition calls for more COVID-19 contact tracers as case numbers rise

Alberta has about 800 tracers, and chief medical health officer Dr. Hinshaw says more are being recruited

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. Hospital and health-care workers who staged a one-day illegal walkout returned to work Tuesday while politicians swapped recriminations and accusations in the house over the dispute. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta health staff return to work, surgeries resume after one-day walkout

AHS estimated 157 non-emergency surgeries, most of them in Edmonton, had to be postponed as a result of the walkout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to provide an update on the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Canada has reached a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first was reported

Most Read