COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Advice for Young People while Schools are Closed from DES National Educational Psychology Service

COVID-19 (Coronavirus):
Advice for Young People while Schools are Closed
Stay Responsible & Informed
Stay Active & Connected
Stay Positive & Calm

The Government has made a decision to close all schools in Ireland in order to slow down the spread of the Covid-19 virus in Ireland and keep as many people as possible safe and well. We have not been in this situation before, so this is new to us all, but if we follow the right advice we will get through this, and in time we will be proud of how we responded, working together to support our country. You have a part to play in this. Some of you may be ready to take on the challenge of social/physical distancing and doing schoolwork at home, some of you may be bored and fed up and others may be feeling worried or anxious about what these changes may mean. We are all adjusting and adapting. When trying to think about how you can support yourself, your family, your community and your country in the coming weeks, remember these three key messages:

Stay Responsible & Informed
Stay Active & Connected
Stay Positive & Calm

1. Stay Responsible & Informed:

  • Follow the HSE advice on their website (see link at end) on
    protecting yourself, practicing social/physical distancing and on
    ways to avoid spreading the virus.
  • Keep up-to-date with information posted on the Department of
    Education & Skills’ Twitter account (see link at end).
  • Without the facts, we may believe rumours and imagine situations
    far worse than reality. Stick to reliable, trustworthy sources of
    information such as the HSE, the Department of Health, the
    Department of Education and Skills, the World Health
    Organisation (see links at end) and trustworthy mainstream news
    sources, such as RTE.
  • Take breaks from the news and social media as this makes us
    less vulnerable to ‘fake news’ and limits our exposure to unhelpful
    or inaccurate information.
  • Remember that the Government is working hard to ensure that
    people throughout the country stay healthy and safe.
  • Remember, too, that not everyone will get the virus and the vast
    majority who get it will recover fully. At times like this we all need
    to support each other:
    • Be kind and look out for each other
    • Remember no individual or group is ‘responsible’ for the
    • Making negative comments about others in relation to the
      virus is not helpful, it’s important to challenge your friends
      and family if they are doing this.
    • If people you know get the virus remember that it’s not
      their fault. They have been unlucky and need our

2. Stay Active & Connected

Routines and schedules are the key to getting through this new
phase of our lives. Making our days structured and predictable will
help us feel secure and reassured. Schools have closed and this
has changed our regular daily routines. During this time of Covid19 let’s create new routines. Keeping busy, having a sense of
purpose and feeling in control of our time is very important.
You can help yourself get through this time by creating a Plan for
the Day, every evening for the day ahead (see link at end)

Following your normal school day can be your guide. Don’t forget
to discuss your plan with your family to make sure that your
scheduling of mealtimes, showering, computer time etc. works for
everyone in the house. When you are creating your plan think
about the following:

  • Include some basic daily activities: Sleep is good for your
    health and wellbeing so it’s important to get plenty of sleep –
    eight to twelve hours is recommended for young people.
    Leaving your phone/laptop/tablet outside of your bedroom will
    help you to get a good night’s sleep. It’s also important to eat
    healthily, to drink lots of water and to take care of personal
    hygiene. Aim to include sleep, taking exercise, showering and
    getting dressed into your daily routine.
  • Include some physical activity & housework:
    • Going for a walk or run/doing weights/jumping on a
      trampoline/ following an exercise routine on line or by
      using an App
    • Tidying your room (make your bed/keep your space clean
      and tidy)
    • Helping with the housework (empty and load the
      dishwasher/mow the lawn/wash the car/vacuum/ help with
      the shopping/with cooking/with washing & ironing.
  • Include some social activity:
    • We all find it hard to be away from our friends and to
      practice physical/social distancing. Use technology to stay
      in touch. If you happen to meet a friend, remember to stay
      two metres apart.
    • If you have relatives, family or neighbours who may be
      lonely or who live alone, why not give them a ring?
      Remember in particular older relatives.
    • Reconnect with your family. Find similar interests and plan
      to watch TV together, play board games/make a jigsaw or
      help with the housework together. Maybe you can help a
      younger brother or sister with their schoolwork.
  • Include enjoyable and creative activities:
    • Try something new. Use YouTube to take up a new hobby.
    • Do a crossword, read, draw, paint, write or listen to music.
    • Capture each day by documenting it through writing,
      recording or photography. Keep a journal/diary of this
      time. It might be something that you will really value in the
    • Write/email a letter to a friend or relative or elderly
    • Watch a favourite TV programme.
    • Share and enjoy fun TikToks with friends.
    • Prepare a meal. Bake a cake.
  • Include schoolwork
    • It is important that your new routine on weekdays mirrors
      the normal school day, as much as possible. One option
      may be to follow the order of subjects as they appear on
      your usual school timetable. Another option may be to
      take a short break after what is the usual length of a class
      period in your school.
    • It is important that you make time each day to complete
      some schoolwork. Keep a log of what you have worked
      on each day.
    • Some schools are using technology to support students
      with their schoolwork. If your school is doing this,
      remember to check the school website and your email
    • Remember it is often hard to motivate yourself and stay
      focused when working alone at home. This is normal.
      Taking regular breaks and rewarding yourself is key to
      staying motivated.

3. Stay Positive & Calm

Over the next few weeks you may have lots of different feelings. It
may all feel a bit unreal. We may feel anxious, sad, afraid, fed up,
angry, shocked or even numb. We may feel nothing at all. This is
all ok and these are all normal and healthy reactions to stressful
situations, such as the Covid-19 outbreak. There is no ‘right’ or
‘wrong’ way to feel. If our feelings and reactions seem different
from those of our friends, remember that everyone reacts
differently. There are things we can do, to help, such as:

  • Talk to family and friends about your feelings. Sharing our
    thoughts or worries with others really does help.
  • Remember that there are a lot of rumours and ‘fake news’
    going around at the moment. If you are worried about them,
    talk to an adult or parent.
  • Get your information from a reliable source.
  • Continually talking about Covid-19 or watching constant
    updates on it can increase your anxiety. Try to limit accessing
    information on the internet/ television/social media that might be
    upsetting to you.
  • Covid-19 will pass and life will get back to normal.
  • Look at this break from your normal routine as a time to pay
    attention to yourself and make a special effort to take care of
    yourself. Try to get some extra sleep, eat nutritious foods and
    get some exercise, even if it is just a walk.
  • Practice some relaxation techniques (see link at end).
  • Do something you enjoy. Think about something that makes you
    feel good, then make it happen – like listening to music, going
    for walks, doing an exercise routine, watching a funny movie.
    Remember laughter is good medicine!

Check out these hyperlinks:

Check out these websites, this list is not exhaustive:
o Social/physical distancing
o Department of Health
o World Health Organisation (WHO)
o Little Things Campaign