Just last week schools were forced to closed, alongside universities and colleges, it was safe to say no one really knew what to expect what was going to happen next, whether that was the end of the school year and what would happen with exams. 

So much is changing in the world leaving us all with so much fear of what is going to happen next, how long it’s going to last for and not really having any clear answers on what to expect. We’re constantly living in a state of panic. Something that was announced on Friday meant that schools were to close, to some it wasn’t a big deal but to others it was devastating. 

It was something that came way to early, where they might not be able to see their friends have a prom, school trips, do their exams, some would have been finishing in June but now their school journey has come to an abrupt ending, it’s safe to say many young people are worried, they don’t know what’s going to happen and we’re all feeling the strain of wanting answers but not getting them. As a uni student in my third year, it’s safe to say I’m not sure what’s going on and nothing has really sunk in yet.

What does uncertainty mean?

A feeling we often get when struggles in life begin to take hold, we don’t really know what’s going to happen and there are no clear answers. It’s to do with having unknown information or something being imperfect, not knowing how the outcome will be. It applies to any predictions of perhaps future events, physical measurements they’ve made, or to the unknown.

In simpler terms, it’s a lack of what we know as certainty, it’s a state of limited knowledge where it is impossible to describe the state, a future outcome, or more than one possible outcome. For example, no one knows if it’s going to rain tomorrow,  so there is this level of uncertainty.

Uncertainty can take place in games such as gambling, where chance is central to play and not knowing the outcome. When you’re not sure about a job that you want to apply for, this is a feeling of uncertainty and perhaps if the economy is going bad and causing everyone to wonder what will happen next, it is also a feeling of uncertainty.

So why is the Coronavirus giving us so much uncertainty?

The widespread of the virus is something that we were all uncertain about from the start, we knew it was around but we didn’t know how quickly it would spread or were too and even the outcome of what would happen when it did finally spread worldwide. There was uncertainty on not only us but the scientist, they didn’t know what this disease was or how to treat it or how quickly it would spread, same with the NHS they didn’t know how hard it would be for them and how many people would become infected, whether they had the right skills to be able to cope with it or the right equipment.

From the start, we have all been dealing with levels of uncertainty and even now we’re still left wondering what is going to happen, schools have been closed, exams postponed. People are losing jobs, businesses are losing money, everything is going on a standstill.

Education 

Last week, all education came to a halt, as the government decided that it was best to shut all schools, universities, colleges, etc, to try and stop the spread of Coronavirus. Whilst we all want what’s best to be able to beat the virus, it has had many effects on students and the fear of not knowing what’s going to happen with exams, graduation, leavers assembly, saying goodbye to friends and teachers. It all came to an abrupt ending.

Everything is now being done remotely, with online seminars being taught online. But the problem is, that not everyone can actually do the online side of things, some may not have the facilities to do this. Many feel like their concerns haven’t even been answered. GCSE results will just be given to pupils based on their predicted grades, it’s something we didn’t ever want to happen and something that will change the way education feels forever, especially for the year 11’s or any other pupil finishing their school years and not being able to say a proper goodbye.

How’re people truly feeling about this sudden change?

A parent says: ”How sudden it’s all been one minute at school and now they are not. Not being able to say goodbye all that was planned for their last yr of school – PGL trip, leavers assembly. Thought it was unfair when schools were still open but now closed made him realise how bad it is and what the actual circumstances are. Already feeling a bit lonely and distant from friends – though he does talk to them all the time on ps4, FaceTime, etc. Worried he will become anti-social and not be able to deal with people”.

A year six teacher says: ”So when the news was announced last week that schools were closing, on Thursday morning I had some very emotional year 6 children whos main concerns were the uncertainty of it all – would they still get to do Oliver? (End of year production they’d started learning the words to!) would they have a leavers disco still? They were Genuinely (and surprisingly!!) upset they wouldn’t get to do their sats as all year there has been a build-up, practice papers and booster groups and they’ve worked so hard and wanted that recognition”.

I’ve got three of my year 6s in for definite tomorrow – two others qualify but they’re currently self-isolating. One child who is in as he falls under the vulnerable category – his mum was going to collect him at 1 pm once he’d had his free school meal – he begged her to stay in school until 3 which he is now doing. Another child was unsure on Friday whether or not she would be in school anymore as although her mums a keyworker, she didn’t know if mum would be going in – she literally squealed and jumped for joy when she found out she would be in school tomorrow. Other children, however, were tearful on Friday at 3 pm – asking when they’d see me again, gave lots of cuddles. Parents were also upset and expressed the anxiety of their children and the uncertainty and suddenness of it all. All I could do was explain I don’t know any more than they do about the reopening of schools but I reassured them that once the world was a bit more normal again, even if it is in August or September, then we would arrange a bbq and water fight for the y6 leavers so they’d get to have that closure and goodbye”.

A sixth form student says: ”I feel frustrated that after all my hard work and dedication I am no longer able to take my exams. I feel upset that my last year at school was cut short and that I had to say my goodbyes early. I feel angry that this is out of my control and we have been left with little answers. As a student that has enjoyed school and put a lot of effort and time trying to get the grades needed to get into the university, I feel dishearten I couldn’t finish the academic year. Being given my predicted grades feels like starting a long race and being towards the finish line, to only be handed the medal. I would have liked to be given the opportunity to earn my grades and this is really unfair and devastating”.

A sixth form teacher says: ‘‘At this time of the school year, the pressure ramps up in terms of completion of coursework and revision for upcoming exams. Exam boards are requesting samples of student’s work and teachers are under pressure to get work from students complete to the best standard in order to achieve their highest possible grades. So for the current years 11s and 13s, they have been immersed in that kind of environment which is heavily focused on assessment. They may be initially feeling relieved but I think that may develop into a sense of bewilderment and confusion.

This confusion could stem from not being given any strong guidance and support on what will happen in terms of their final grades and qualifications. On one hand, students who would normally struggle to perform well in exams may feel the most relieved and like a weight has been lifted. However, the work they have been focussing on for so long to be “exam-ready” may feel like a waste of unnecessary stress and anxiety. Also, what do they do with their time now? How can they create routine and structure in their days that supports their sense of purpose and achievement? My daughter has been homeschooled for the past 2 years and was due to sit her exams this spring/ summer as she is in year 11. She has no strong/confirmed predicted grades and has not sat formal mock exams. I worry about what will happen in terms of securing grades for her. It took a lot of hard work, finances, and commitment to make sure she had structure and routine that provided a rounded education. I intend to investigate this week and try to put it all in perspective in this concerning, ever-changing situation!”

A PE teacher says: ‘‘2 years of direct work with a group of individuals that should be sitting an exam to prove themselves; for my teaching to be judged and smiles to be shared. 5+ years leading up to this one season of exams. It is what education drives towards as the main objective alongside the support we offer to young people. 5+ years in education and boom- it’s a goodbye, at least for now. Students are no longer in our direct care, but that’s our job! My dear form of 31 students, I am their backbone, their ‘mum’ at school, I enforce a positive outlet for them to flourish- all the hard work and it feels like I am out of control.

Yes, we are available over email but, these students are used to face to face contact with their teachers 5/7 days a week. To the students who were set to take exams- keep going, keep trying, keep learning. You need to prove yourself, to yourself. Keep your brains active, the next stage in your life, be it secondary school, six forms, college, university, etc… it WILL happen and you need to be ready. To all students in secondary school, the support is still there. Email is a wonderful source; contact your form tutors, check-in with them. They CARE!! To all staff who are heartbroken, devastated, broken and distraught. KEEP GOING. Do all you can, within your power to continue to support these young individuals. We are one. Keep safe, spend time with your loved ones, learn a new skill, keep active and just KEEP GOING!”

A student who was ready to take her GCSE’s says: ”I’ve lost the opportunity to show the improvements I have made and how hard I have pushed myself since the mocks exam. I am anxious about the future as my next steps are crucial for university and my long term career. Also losing friends so quickly as we don’t know where we are off to. My end of year dress and prom dress and shoes has gone to waste”.

What I have to say: ”I myself, am a third-year university student and it’s safe to say that I am constantly feeling anxious every day, I have so many deadlines soon, I have to do everything from home and sometimes there can be so many distractions, it can be hard to concentrate. I have no idea if I’m even going to graduate this year, or whether or not the grade I want will be what I was expecting, it’s like I’ve put my heart and soul into these past three years to just be told that’s it. Not having any answers as of yet and constantly being in that headspace of not knowing what’s going to happen, it is scary. I was supposed to be celebrating this year the end of my three years of university, but it looks like that might not happen, it’s sad to think that this is the end of my years at uni, it’s a hard position to be in and it feels like no one is really giving us students any hope right now.”

Mental health

Taking care of your mental health is so important, and now we’re actually being told to stay indoors, it’s even more vital to make sure your mental health is in check. As scary as everything is and not knowing what will happen, the worst thing to do is panic, the best thing to do is make sure that you’re taking care of yourself and know that eventually, this will all be a distant memory, it just takes time.

We now have to stay inside, only leaving for essentials like food, health reasons, one exercise a day or essential work and we must keep two meters apart at all times. It will give us a chance to be in touch with others in different ways than usual. It’s going to be different, but use it as a time to better yourself, do something you enjoy, spend time with love ones and stay home.

So if you’re a student, a parent or just anyone in general and are worried about the future and are feeling a bit down in the dumps then here is a few ways you can help yourself:

  • Just because the world is on a bit of a standstill at the moment, doesn’t mean that you should just stop your routine, get up, get dressed do what you would normally do. If your a parent do some work with your children, always make sure to still learn even though school isn’t open, it’s best to still keep in the loop.
  • Keep in contact with those you love if you do not live with them, facetime regularly, text and just keep up to date with each other.
  • Take days to reflect, recognise your success and the things you’re grateful for. Make a gratitude journal each day where you could write two or three things every night before you go to bed.
  • Feelings of uncertainty and changes to daily life may mean you have more difficulty sleeping. There is a lot you can do to help improve your sleep. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even at the weekend if you can. Wind down before bed by avoiding any forms of technology, read a book instead.
  • Now is the perfect time to start a new hobby, have a clear-out and catch up on anything you need too. It always helps to have something to focus on.
  • Move each day, doesn’t matter if it’s a short walk, a quick work out at home or simply just stretching out your muscles, moving around is so important, it can be so tempting to just sit around all day and do nothing but in order to keep you feeling happy moving around is what’s best. It reduces stress, increases energy levels, makes us more alert, helps us sleep better.

Something that many have been tuning into on the fitness side is Joe Wicks, who’s been doing P.E sessions for kids, but anyone can join in for sure. Doing videos every Monday-Friday.

Take a look over on Mental Health UK’s website for more advice on how to cope with mental health during this Coronavirus crisis.

The pandemic of Coronavirus has changed people’s lives all over the world, It may be very daunting for parents to know that now it’s their time to take over on the teaching front when they can, trying to homeschool can be difficult and it may not always go as planned. But here are a few tips on how to homeschool successfully.

Advice to parents on how to homeschool your children:

  • Set the tone, it’s safe to say that many parents are feeling under pressure and that children can easily pick up on this if you’re stressed or overwhelmed, your children will be, try and be calm and happy and it will go smoothly.
  • Routine, like anything having a routine, is so important. Having structure, especially in times like this when it feels like there is none. Don’t feel pressured in starting at the same time each day, it will vary but perhaps say get up at 9:30 am, do some reading, some maths then have lunch and then do something fun like art or P.E split it up. Do what works best for you and your child.
  • Don’t feel like you have to be similar to a school, you don’t have to do 9-3 you can simply do 9-12, classrooms have many transitions.
  • Teach them life skills, perhaps do some gardening, do some baking with them, something that you feel will really help them in the future, make it fun.
  • Have fun, it’s so important. Do some science experiments, craft, dance, cook and play with your kids. The world is so stressful right now, it’s vital to enjoy each moment with each other as possible.

Even though the world is in a crisis, we still don’t have all the answers, we don’t really know what’s going on or what’s going to happen, the thing to remember is this isn’t going to last forever and each day that passes is a step closer to this being over, just think positive, keep learning, keep moving, spend time with those you love and don’t put pressure on yourself!

If you’re looking for any online counseling whether you’re a parent and you’re looking for your children, you yourself need it or your a student or anyone that is struggling at this time, then please do not hesitate to contact Becky, you can access contact details here. Check out the website for more information and what there is to offer.

 

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