Coping with school closures during COVID-19

Posted in: NBACL Blog

Most of us are now into our sixth week of social distancing and staying home. We’re no longer going to school, shopping in malls, or exercising in gyms. We’ve stopped visiting friends or family outside our household, and those who can do so are working from home.

The weekly grocery store trip has become an exercise in hyper-vigilance. Mask, gloves, only one person per household. Stay away from other people, don’t touch too many things, and get in and out as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The change in routine has been difficult and stressful for everyone. For families with a child with an intellectual or developmental disability, it’s been particularly challenging.

Most people are creatures of habit. We thrive with a comfortable routine, and people with a disability are no exception. In fact, for many of the families with school-aged children we support, school is an important part of their routine. Under regular circumstances, it’s a familiar space with a predictable schedule, and a place where students can socialize with their friends. It also allows parents to focus on their work while their children are under someone else’s care. However, the pandemic we’re facing has changed all that.

To be clear, we fully understand the importance of closing places where many people gather – like schools – in addition to avoiding contact with people outside your immediate household. This is being done for everyone’s safety. However, we also understand that this significant change may have disproportionately impacted the families we support. That’s why, in recent weeks, we’ve checked in with over 300 families we support who have been directly affected by the closure of New Brunswick’s schools.

Despite the unusual situation, we’re still here doing what we’ve done for many decades – supporting New Brunswickers with an intellectual or developmental disability and their families. To help families with (a) school-aged child(ren), we’ve put together a guide to at-home activities and resources during COVID-19 with information for all ages, from young children to teens. We also invite any families who need additional support to reach out to us.

We know it’s an extraordinary time. However, we also know that New Brunswickers with an intellectual or developmental disability and their families are extraordinary people. They have proven their resilience over many years, and we’re confident they have what it takes to make it through this.

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