As the pandemic came to a close, there remained a long climb ahead before life could return to a pre-pandemic “normal”–but this was the time to start a conversation about how to approach a digital and socioemotional reset as the transition out of pandemic-era habits and circumstances began.

Children and Screens’ #AskTheExperts webinar “Digital Reset: A Primer for Transitioning Out of the Pandemic” was held on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 12:00pm ET via Zoom. A distinguished panel of researchers, clinicians, educators, and parenting experts discussed how to navigate the many ways life was expected to change in the months to come. Calling upon their interdisciplinary expertise, the panelists provided mitigation strategies for the anxiety, stress, and trauma of the pandemic, and shared advice for combatting unhealthy habits formed during lockdown, both on- and off-screen. 

Speakers

  • Catherine Steiner-Adair, EdD

    Clinical Psychologist; Consultant; Speaker Author, The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age
    Moderator
  • Alexis Lauricella, PhD

    Director; Associate Professor Technology in Early Childhood Center; Erikson Institute
  • David J. Schonfeld, MD, FAAP

    Director National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
  • Kathleen McGann, MD

    Vice Chair of Education; Dr. Glen and Muriel Kiser Professor of Pediatrics Department of Pediatrics and Division of Infectious Diseases, Duke University Medical Center

[Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra]: Hi and welcome I am Dr. Pam Hurst-Della Pietra founder and president of Children and Screens Institute of Digital Media and Child Development and host of the popular ask the experts webinar series. We are delighted to have you join us for our 30th interdisciplinary webinar since the pandemic and its concomitant lockdowns began. Today we are at an inflection point, a time of transition, adjustment, and uncertainty. Many of us don’t know yet what our work lives will look like in the coming year or how our children’s schooling can catch up or whether or not we should vaccinate our children or even dine out at a restaurant. One thing is certain our progeny need our help and support to navigate some serious adjustments ahead of them from returning to in-person learning and reconnecting with classmates and friends to being away from parents and siblings with whom they’ve spent the last year to recalibrating their social habits and planning summer activities. Where do screens, children’s lifelines for the last 13 months, fit in? While the research studies are still being analyzed and published now we have seen firsthand how constant screen time for a year has affected our children’s cognitive mental health and education. Our outstanding  group of experts is here to help you understand what we know so far and to help our children overcome the trauma of COVID and move forward in life with better habits than ever before both on and off screen. As a mother of a teen and an expert in the field I can attest to the fact that it’s complicated and it’s important to be aware and monitor your children closely over the coming months. The experts have reviewed the questions you submitted they’ll answer as many as possible during and after their presentations. If you have additional questions during the workshop please type them into the Q&A box at the bottom of your screen. When you do please indicate whether or not you’d like to add ask your question live on camera, if time permits, or if you would prefer that the moderator read your question. We’re recording today’s workshop and we’ll upload onto youtube the video in the coming days. All registrants will receive a link to our youtube channel where you will find videos from our past 29 webinars, which we hope you will watch as you wait for this video to be posted. It is now my great pleasure to introduce our moderator Dr Catherine Steiner-Adair is a clinical psychologist and consultant and author of the award-winning book “The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age.” She’s an expert in child development, education, and family relationships and works with families, educators and others to adapt best practices in using technology while minimizing the risks it poses at school and at home. We’re delighted to have Catherine with us today. Welcome. 

 

[Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair]: Hello! Thank you and I just want to take a minute, I know this isn’t the script to say the service. That you have provided 30 webinars for parents for professionals for people like me who need to learn from other people and other researchers like the ones on the panel with me today has been quite amazing and I just want to thank you because you have really helped so many hundreds of people, parents, educators, and researchers and it has really been a service and I know it’s been a service of um love and commitment from you as well as your own research initiative and commitment to kids so thank you so much we have a great group of people here today to continue this incredible work and you know when we started this, Pam I remember thinking well this will just last till the summer and here we are a year later still with us and still confusing and the summer is coming upon us and we are now beginning to actually get to see a little bit of what it looks like when kids are going back to school and things are changing so today we’re going to hear from wonderful researchers and experts in their own areas about how to think about these transitions how to anticipate them what we know what we don’t know what we can learn from what we’ve been through and how we can remain optimistic and feel efficacious guiding our kids so we will begin with hearing from David Schonfeld. David established and directs the national center for school crisis and bereavement. It is located at children’s hospital in los angeles and he’s also professor of clinical pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine. For over 30 years he’s provided consultation and training to schools on supporting students and staff in times of crisis and loss and he has been incredibly busy as you all can well imagine since a year ago March and has been helping hundreds and hundreds of people around the country. David thank you.

 

[Dr. David Schonfeld]: Thank you very much so what i’m going to do today is talk a little bit uh briefly about how we can support children during this pandemic and I wanted to start by sharing some data about research that was conducted in New York City Public schools about six months after the world trade center attacks and it showed that distress among children after major crisis events is both pervasive and long lasting nearly nine out of ten children attending grades four through twelve still reported at least one reaction persisting six months after the attack. The most common probable mental health diagnosis of the over 8, 000 children screened were agoraphobia and separation anxiety with symptoms consistent with those diagnoses self-reported by nearly 15 percent and 12 percent respectively. Even six months later, these students reported anxiety leaving home and going into public spaces. It’s helpful to recall that New York City experienced ongoing threats of terrorism during this time period which included concerns of anthrax release, another potentially deadly infectious disease can be transmitted without exposure to someone who’s obviously ill. So this therefore has some direct relevance for what we might expect as children return to classrooms while the virus is still circulating during this current pandemic and after many have been isolated in their homes for up to a year or more so it’s critical that we provide active outreach and support to children who don’t return to school when in-person classes are available and quite honestly we should be offering support now for those children already demonstrating distress or disengaging from learning. WWe need to shift from exclusively a medical model, which I hear a lot of people talking about characterized by screening, evaluation, diagnosis referral and treatment for individual children with symptoms of mental illness and move instead toward a system of universal support within the school system those are referred to as tier one services and that should be our primary focus to promote resilience is the main response to the pandemic this would have to be coupled with incorporating school mental health professionals and referral to community mental health providers to provide additional services from children who actually need or would benefit from more assistance. Now this pandemic has caused widespread distress among children and adults, but not all of this distress represents trauma symptoms the challenges facing most children probably relate more to loss than to trauma during this pandemic. Our society has of late grown to appreciate the important impact of trauma on children resulting in a call to become more trauma informed but we have been slow to recognize we must also become grief sensitive and the massive number of deaths associated with this pandemic and other losses should prompt us to remedy this oversight. I remember responding to one um community shooting and there was a teenager and the person on either side of him was shot and killed, but he was uninjured and really didn’t know what was happening until he was already safer and when I spoke with him it was about three or four weeks after the shooting he had gone back to school once stayed for an hour or two he had declined counseling and he didn’t return to school. So I went to his home and he explained that he didn’t want to go to counseling because all they wanted to do was to talk about the shooting and quite honestly he had some trauma symptoms symptoms; trouble sleeping some jitteriness, but they had all abated within a week and so then I asked him ‘well, why aren’t you back in school?’ and he said well it didn’t feel right to be there without her. He was on a date with his girlfriend that he planned on marrying and to be in school without her just didn’t feel right. So I said ‘well maybe you’re you’re suffering from the loss of your girlfriend’ and he looks surprised and he said ‘that’s it and if someone’s willing to talk to me about that i’ll go for counseling today. I just don’t want to keep talking about the shooting.’ But no one had suggested to him that maybe grief was the issue and the interventions and supports we offer to children who are grieving are actually quite different than trauma treatments when addressing trauma you’re focusing more on the person’s reaction to something that happened but support for grief focuses instead on helping people cope with loss the persistent absence of a person rather than the way the person died. I served on the Sandy Hook advisory commission and I remember one of the parents testifying in the spring and she said that she got the yearbook from sandy hook and she opened it up and she noticed that the picture of her child who had died in the shooting had been removed as had all the pictures of all the children and staff who had died and she looked at me she said ‘what were they thinking?’ why it’s as if they never existed and and i’ve had conversations with people about this where they’ve said they’ve left out photographs in the yearbook because they don’t want to trauma trigger, but they don’t recognize that for grief we do want to remember the people and commemoration memorialization becomes important. So with that background let me spend just a couple minutes talking about some general advice on how we would support children during this pandemic. First off, don’t prepare don’t pretend that everything is okay when obviously it isn’t children can tell when adults are not being genuine and honest and they’re less likely to ask questions or seek advice when that’s the case. Children actually benefit from knowing that important adults in their lives also have concerns and learning from them how to deal with troubling or distressing feelings. We simply can’t expect children to share all their concerns when we’re unwilling to share that we have concerns at all ourselves and we certainly can help them learn to cope with distress effectively, if we don’t model effective coping techniques, but this doesn’t mean that adults should share all of their concerns. Adults should briefly share some of the more common reactions they’ve experienced in the service of being able to model effective coping strategies. For example, a class my classroom teacher might share how he had some difficulty sleeping the night prior to returning if school had just reopened for in-person classes, but then he felt better after he talked with his wife and realized she too had concerns and they discussed some of the steps that the school was taking to keep people safe. We actually have scripts on our website that you can freely download for educators for the first day back to school whether it’s in person or remote lessons or younger or older students. You also want to find out individual children’s fears, concerns, or skepticism children actually have many different fears or concerns than adults do and you can’t reassure people effectively if you don’t know what they’re actually concerned of otherwise you probably aren’t offering reassurance, but rather you’re telling people why you aren’t worried and when two people each talk only from their own perspective I call that arguing and that isn’t very effective in providing reassurance. We don’t want to tell children that they shouldn’t be worried or attempt to minimize their concerns. Instead, we should help them learn to deal with their uncertainty and fear and share with them strategies to deal with distressing feelings rather than pretend that they don’t or shouldn’t exist. During this time we should also be careful to watch our media consumption make sure it’s a healthy diet and don’t consume too much adults should try to keep informed but through focused and periodic attention to trusted media outlets or other trusted sources of information. I find it’s helpful to recognize there are two main reasons to listen to, watch or read media coverage during a crisis: one is to be reassured and the other is to learn practical steps to keep yourself or those you care about safe. If you aren’t getting more reassured by what you’re reading and you aren’t learning new practical information about actions you need to take you already know to wear a mask, stay six feet, apart wash your hands etc then it’s best to just disconnect from media. That would be television radio print and social media at least for a period of time this is actually a good time for everyone to unplug and connect instead with family and friends we also should be sure to set reasonable expectations and communicate them to children, parents, and educators. Children are simply not going to learn as much schoolwork during this time period as they would have had we been able to keep schools in session and if we weren’t in a crisis it’s not just that schools are not open for in-person classes. I’ve worked with many schools that have experienced mass shootings and natural disasters and they often reopen schools very quickly after these events, but the students still have trouble learning and teachers still find it difficult to teach. So don’t try to keep the same pace of learning or this will overwhelm students and educators and then their time together will become more of a source of distress than actually a source of help and i’m going to warn you now that when schools do resume we won’t be able to catch up and teach everything children miss we have to recognize that at some level the world and therefore children’s curriculum has simply changed if we’re teaching children how to cope with distress and adjust to a crisis then we’re helping them learn life skills that will make them more resilient in the future and more capable of dealing with future adversity in their lives and to be honest in the end those are the lessons that are most important. I’m going to just end with two quick slides that show you some of the resources that you can freely access this is the website for the national center for school crisis and bereavement at schoolcrisiscenter.org you’ll see that there’s a banner at the top it’s kind of salmon colored that has the covid19 pandemic response resources some of which i mentioned but many others and then this is the website for the coalition to support grieving students grievingstudents.org which includes more than 20 video based modules on a wide range of topics on how to support children who are grieving. So i’m going to turn this back to Catherine for some questions and discussion.

 

[Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair]: Wonderful thank you such wise words to help us understand what is going on. Questions um okay how can um we help kids ease them back into person-to-person school especially those that are showing resistance? 

 

[Dr. David Schonfeld]: Well, I think first off you find out again why the children what they’re concerned about and why they’re resistant to going back to class because you don’t really know what it is it you might think it’s the virus it might be that they’re that they’ve had some bullying that’s been done remotely or they’re anxious about their school work and so the solution will vary but if it’s about resistance of being with groups of people during a pandemic then you probably should be going out into public spaces and practicing getting closer to people, but keeping safe. So you don’t want to keep kids you know in in an apartment for more than a year or a year and a half and then just release them into school one morning uh when everybody says it’s time to go back to class. So you’ll want to phase in but first start out by asking them what they’re concerned about or what would help and help them figure out what would be ways to start to transition 

 

[Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair]: Great okey doke thank you David so much. Now i’m actually going to pick up right there and talk myself more about how we are what we’re seeing now in kids transitioning back to school and how to think about using the summertime as a way to facilitate perhaps an easier transition back in the fall so transition seemed to be the theme today and it’s a good time now to start thinking about how we’re going to help our children transition not just to going back to school right now but transition to the summer and it will be a more dramatic and challenging transition this year when school ends because their current schedules and their normal habits of where kids were typically away from us for five to eight hours a day they had been at home with us for five to eight hours a day. Where they were looking at teachers and playing with their friends and having recess and doing after school sports they have been doing all of that to the extent that they’ve been doing it at all on screens and at home. Screens have been an absolute lifesaver and of course they come with their own complicated um fallout and we can’t beat up ourselves or feel guilty for the amount of times our kids have been on screens everybody parents teachers and kids too have been working as hard as they can trying to adjust and keep together in this extremely stressful time. And obviously kids have been spending more time on screens than any of us would wish their teachers would wish we would wish and in fact they would too they’re the first to say it’s really exhausting. The research suggests that on average across ages screens devices everything except for single game uh single player games kids have spent an average of six to 12 more hours a week on screens again no praise, no blame it is what it is it’s been unavoidable parents are scrambling we’re worn out we’re doing our best, but that’s also led to parents you know lowering the bar about things that they might not have wanted to before giving kids access to social media at eight or nine maybe not waiting till 13. And kids have been playing many more games and having their play dates on screens, which again has been life-saving but it’s also had some fallout because kids are not used to now playing with each other face to face reading social cues being together in the same way and it’s mitigated against social isolation, but it hasn’t strengthened those social develop and emotional developmental tools that only happen in face-to-face interaction which of course doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen online on screens it does. And online learning has been a huge lifesaver but at the same time we know that too many hours on screens leads to a foggy brain it impacts long and short term memory you just can’t learn as much you can’t focus as much and kids have had to adjust and become exhausted by the amount of screen time and the other thing that’s really been a struggle for children is when so much of their social behavior is happening on apps like snapchat and insta these fast-paced apps that are designed to keep them on the algorithms want to keep them on the app as much as possible they are very powerful neurological stimulants to kids brains and we habituate to them. If you watch the uh documentary the social dilemma just gives you a beautiful portrayal of how this works how the human brain interacts with technology and of course not all of the behaviors that we’ve seen the fallout we’ve seen is just screen based as David said these are traumatic times.The world has been a pretty scary uh time lately and there’s been so much upheaval and there’s so much more exposure to what is actually going on in the world around us, but just to say briefly some of the cognitive changes we are seeing in children right now is that their capacity for sustained tension doing just one thing not multitasking but deepening their capacity for singular focus has been really challenged this year. We’ve seen more impulsivity because they’re used to multitasking or task switching and those stimulants of going from one thing to another to another and if you’re bored oh i’ll just go on insta that gets you revved up and expecting a level of stimulation that normal life doesn’t provide and certainly school does not provide. And when kids are texting a lot and doing socializing in ways that aren’t video chatting, which is always the best because when we video chat we are seeing people were talking in real life time and most of all unlike texting which eliminates tone of voice and the ability to see the impact of your words on the other person which are two of the most essential tools for human relationships texting eliminates that so we’ve seen kids acting out more through social media we’ve seen a lot more um sadness uh social rejection. You know it’s so hard to see everything every part you’re not invited to etc so there’s been some real psychological fallout from the amount of time kids are on social media and again it’s been a lifesaver but there’s also been fallout. It’s not black and white you really have to pay attention to what your child looks like in the moment when they get off something if they look sad say oh you look sad what’s going on. But psychologically there’s no question, in the last year for a host of reasons as David said trauma pandemic grief loss not just big scale loss but loss of graduation loss of birthday parties loss of halloween all these markers that children look forward to has led to an increase in anxiety, social anxiety, social avoidance depression, lethargy what we call dysthymia lack: of pleasure in life things don’t give children joy the same that they used to get from toys. So none of this is surprising and what’s really important when we think about going back to school even right now is that we shouldn’t expect kids to just bounce back and do school the way that they used to do school and what we’re seeing is and we’re hearing anecdotally already significant challenges for kids in school and this makes sense it’s not pathological it is an adjustment reaction to a very very stressful year that’s been full of for some kids different kinds of grief and loss and trauma and violence around them and in the world. So when we step back what we’re seeing now with some kids is that they’re really fidgety in school they can’t sit still at a desk, they can’t maintain their focus, they’re grabbing their phones if they have them they want their phones in school if they’re not even allowed to have them they expect to have a phone on hand and they become attached like a psychological dependency to their phone they are sneaking their chromebook when their teachers are saying let’s put our books down our chromebook stand because they’re so used to the security and the stimulation of being on a screen. We’re seeing more impulsivity. Kids are interrupting, they’re getting up from their seats when they need to socially distance they’re not maintaining the social distance. They’re having a hard time taking turns and other kids are having a hard time self-regulating and just staying on the task they will crave the instant gratification of being on two or three devices at once and even in little children all the way up through high school we are seeing a fear of going to school. We’re seeing school avoidance because they’re afraid. I heard a story yesterday of an eight-year-old who pricked his finger on a paper clip and got scared that the paper clip was somehow going to expose him to COVID or give him germs that he would then take home and expose his grandmother. We’re hearing kids who are afraid to eat because they’ve heard that restaurants and eating in restaurants is scary so we see a lot of worries and anxiety, anticipatory anxiety, as David said, panic attacks and these are all really understandable adjustment reactions to this situation. It’s important not to over pathologize it or minimize it but really to meet children where they are so in some ways going back to school right now has been kind of cold turkey for kids because they’re suddenly expected to like be in school. So let’s think about how we can use summer and help kids use the time of summer to transition back to school in ways that will help them neurologically, psychologically, and socially reset their selves their brains their social skills so they can be more function better when school happens. So now’s the time to really think about um what kids normally get out of summer. You know, what summer all about? So summer is for when i think about summer the first thing i think is summer’s a state of mind. It’s a state of mind when you think about sort of the lazy hazy days of summer it’s a state of mind in the sense that we think about slowing down hammock time going for long walks gazing at the stars and it’s also really critical time for developmental tasks and things that can happen with us as humans when we do those things and the biggest one that we need all of us need is to reset our brains. To learn how to be in the slower pace of life that is life off of screens. To take breaks from hours of sitting doing work at our desks on our screens. For children to have the time and the freedom to follow their own curiosity to play for hours on end on something they choose to do when they no longer have to do their homework or do what the teacher says they have to do. So another thing that’s so important about summer is that those long summer days encourage us to reconnect with nature and nature is hands down being outdoors is hands down the best way to refresh your brain from its connection dependency desire to be on screens and to reconnect with your inner self your own curiosity so even what you want to be thinking about as a family is what your kids like to do in the summer and if they can’t go to camp what are some of the things that they do about it at camp and how you can recreate that as much as possible at home and how to use their free time and really how to come up with a family plan and a new schedule just like kids have a scheduled school they do much better with a schedule at home, but have it be things that really pay attention to bringing things they have done and enjoy doing inside and on screens into the real world and outdoors as much as possible. What are the kinds of craft skills new life skills shooting rockets playing, with nerf guns water, balloon fights all those kids things that kids love to do and how can you give them those opportunities at home and the other thing that’s so important for kids about summer it’s about that summer is a time of free choice and when children have time to pick what they want to do and make choices then they get to reconnect with their own inner innate curiosity and one of the things we also see children doing that’s so beautiful in the summer is that they play and they make up games and they cheat and they work through fights over the rules which is so important for their social development and they play dress up outside rather than on screens and there’s a world of difference playing dress up in real life than on the screen because you’re creating the story and you’re buttoning buttons and fine motor and gross motor and you’re doing storytelling which is literacy and you’re discovering most of all that you have this luscious imagination inside of you there’s something about playing outside that really generates and recharges kids imagination. And that’s also a time where as families we do summer things like we go for walks and have ice cream and you know sip lemonade in other words we play and we gather together. So some things that you want to be thinking about as families talk with your kids about what they really wish that they could get out of the summer and if they can’t go to camp or do the things they normally do think about how you can recreate that there are phenomenal summer camps available on screens you can learn about nature you can learn cam craft you can build rockets you can shoot them all outside. And so many organizations are really offering incredibly good paced educational fun summer like activities for kids. If you can’t visit your cousins and get together as a family you can still play charades on zoom and have family game night. If your kids have to be inside think about the ways you can create and bring the outdoors indoors no matter where you are no matter where you live you can hang a hammock, you can gaze out a window with the stars, you can read together the stories behind the constellations, you can sleep in a tent in your living room. Summer is a time for us all to think about how to reset refresh our social skills our curiosity our capacity to play and for families to really plan ahead and think about when you can have days that are off screens altogether. How to go for long hikes and leave your phone at home, how to maybe have a weekend that’s screen free. A week that’s screen free because the one of the things that we know for sure is that when we gather under the stars with the people we love the most there is something about being together in nature that creates all those memories of family and safety and security in the world and those are things that our children need now to refresh their own resilience and their capacity to deal with this very challenging situation. So, I am now going to take a question. Let me see. Yes, good question um ‘it seems like parents need a digital reset too how can we expect our children to do this if we’re not willing or able to do’ Yes, that’s so important because parents absolutely need a digital reset and in fact one of the things I really recommend is when you sit down with your kids and think about the summer and think about schedules ask them what’s frustrating to them about you about your availability and really listen and make sure that if at all possible there are times throughout the day where you are with your kids and you are completely screen and device free because we know from research even having a phone on the dinner table is distracting or on your desk is distracting so having no devices and being with your children not only gives you a digital reset, but it tells your kids that they matter more to you than work or anything else and that’s been a hard time a hard thing to convince our kids of these days when we’re working at home, but we have to model uh being screen free and going through our own withdrawal and you can talk about how hard it is. Kids love to hear how you are struggling to get off your devices um and and really model for them and the other thing that I would say is talk with your colleagues at work and really discuss how everybody is burned out is languishing is feeling really um flatlined and think about maybe how you can have summer hours and carve out perhaps a little more time to be with your family and and take care of yourselves. Okay uh we will have time for more questions or a few questions here, but now i’m going to introduce Dr. Alexis Lauricella, I hope I said that right, who is an associate professor and director of technology in the Early Childhood Center at the Erikson Institute. Her research focuses on children’s learning from media and technology for media technology and parents and teachers attitudes towards and the use of media technology. She also works with parents and teachers to connect research to practice. Alexis thank you for being with us.

[Dr. Alexis Lauricella]: Thank you so much Catherine I really appreciate that um and I just want to share my screen and I want to um quickly thank pam and the team at um children and screens for inviting me to participate today. I think this is a really important conversation and i’m glad that we’re starting to talk about it now in April and I hope we continue to talk about it as many of my colleagues have mentioned um this is a transition and every aspect continues to be a transition and I think we really need to think about it in that way with all of our young children. um I want to start off with a little bit of data quickly um this is just a study that we collected in the fall and winter of this academic school year we surveyed 356 pre-k to third grade teachers and we asked them in this particular question, we asked them a lot of questions, but the one I want to present quickly here we asked them thinking about your students experience during remote learning how much do you think they’re learning in the following areas compared to what they would have learned in the classroom. And so we have a scale from zero, which means significantly less than what they would have learned in the classroom five being about the same and ten being significantly more and just to orient orient you a little bit to this chart um the five is here and I didn’t go all the way up to ten because not surprisingly teachers weren’t expecting kids to be learning significantly more necessarily this year but what we found somewhat surprising and um kind of uh optimistic is so here’s the five which is about the same and we’re seeing for certain factors like patience, media literacy, problem solving, independence that these variables are considerably higher than that five saying that kids are learning a little bit more than about the same as what they would have learned in the classroom. I also want to call your attention to what we in early childhood and education tend to talk about in terms of academic skills so things like literacy and math it’s hard to see but these are even both above five too. Um now granted these are teachers perspectives there is some selection bias into who’s participating in this particular study um, but I think there’s so much conversation and focus on the negative around this year that I want to bring some attention to the positives and to the opportunities and the things that we really have seen come out of this year and that frankly some of the places where i hope we take what we learned from this year and adjust going into next year or into these transitions like we’ve been talking about. What we do know in terms of education and child success are things that things like executive functioning and these independent skills are particularly important in terms of predicting later academic success and we’re seeing teachers seeing improvements in these and that is actually a really good sign although it’s not what anyone really wanted for this year the outcomes of this year have changed children in a variety of ways of course some in the good and some in the bad direction but i want to recognize that we’re not going back to school thinking that we have to completely catch up on everything and that this year was a total wash because there really are some opportunities here and I hope both educators and parents can begin to see it in that way. This comes back to this idea of what back to school means. Are we going back to school? Or is this something different? Has school changed? Have children changed? and do we need to kind of adjust to those changes to create like we’ve said a better transition to whatever is happening next in the school context as a developmental psychologist, I really focus on learning and how children learn this year we have taught our children how to learn in a very different way than they have learned for the last hundred plus years of our education system we have required them to be very independent we’ve required a lot of parent involvement that has not been required in the past um and we need to recognize that we have just trained our children from pre-k through high school to do things differently this year and so going back to school means that we’re going to either need to untrain them or retrain them and we really need to recognize that even if we’re talking about seniors who have had 12 years in our sort of traditional schooling system. We just changed their way of thinking in their way of learning and how are we going to readjust to that in this new school space. So again i’m kind of pushing for this new framing of starting school, um even if we’ve got again seniors in high schools going back to school is going to be different than it was in 2019 under and to some of my colleagues points whenever there’s some sort of extreme change in our schooling we have to really think about this as starting over and refreshing what we what we’re coming to this with. So whether we’re talking about preschoolers or kindergartners or middle schoolers or high schoolers, I really encourage educators and parents to really take a moment to kind of retrain themselves to think about this as starting school. I know a lot of parents i have kids at home myself i’m excited about sending them back to school, but I have some work to do i have to get them ready to go back into that building um and to for them to understand what it’s going to be like. So one thing I encourage parents to think about is how did you get your children ready for school the first time? how did you get your preschooler ready for kindergarten? How did you prepare your middle schooler to start middle school? Or even, your high school or college student to go to that context. let’s bring back some of that framing and that attention and that energy so that we’re talking about the new things in those places whether or not you’ve got a a third grader going back to the same building. Let’s talk about transition let’s talk about. What they’re excited about. Let’s talk about what they’re afraid of, what they expect to be the same and what they expect to be different because a lot of parents aren’t doing that they’re just ‘yay school’s, open see you later!’ and sending them right back and and then of course we’re seeing behavior problems of course we might be seeing expectations change so something to think about is really kind of reframing our perspective um about what we’ve expected of our kids for the last 13 months and what we expect and how we can help them move into this new space. So I’m pretty concrete I like to really get to some tips and so I pulled out some tips for educators. Specifically and this can be educators or administration, um I really encourage you to introduce school to children and families not reintroduce start from a fresh space and tell the families and the children what the expectations are what school is going to look like use technology use visuals use videos walk children and families through the process of checking in getting their temperature checked what their classroom now looks like what does it mean for lunchtime or gym time. I really encourage schools to also um avoid doing a complete 180 right so you’ve been doing remote learning you’ve been teaching in this context. I encourage you to take some of the things that you’ve been doing for the last whatever year six months however long it has been and bring some of that into your classroom so that you’re not completing a complete cut in how children have been taught to learn or engage in the last year. Um please start communicating these changes early with your children and with your family so that they can start these conversations at home to get them ready to get back into school or to go to school um and please please be patient please be kind and please be understanding. Um again as a family a parent myself um some things have been way easier this year. Hairbrush hasn’t always happened every morning right teeth gaining teeth brush hasn’t always happened getting out the door at a certain time has definitely not happened and so be be patient and be kind with families as they have to readjust to a lot of logistical changes that may have happened as a function of this year. Tips for parents, um and I said this in the beginning, but I really do want to kind of readjust our thinking of seeing this as a new and big transition um just because school stopped abruptly doesn’t mean that we need to start school abruptly. We should have some time and space to really transition back into this um there will be new schedules life with masks frankly a whole lot less social time school was a very social space before and most of these restrictions are limiting how and when children can engage and connect, which is really important for most children at school. As parents please ask questions of your school, so that you are confident and comfortable with new procedures expectations so that again you can trickle that back to your children and you can ask them about what’s going on in these new situations at school please talk talk talk to your kids about going back. um remember to talk about the positives right so remember that this isn’t all negative that we’ve had a year potentially of being by each other’s side. To be able to give a hug after a a hard test or a hard exam or um to be able to have a snack together in the middle of the day those are a lot of positives that families have have seen um that we can remember and we can we can be positive about um and be positive about going back to school what’s going to be exciting what’s going to be different what’s going to be fun. I really encourage families, especially with young kids, to practice the new routine including the social expectations wearing a mask one of the things we’re seeing a lot with teachers is that young children um don’t always feel comfortable yelling and speaking louder when they have a mask on. Similarly teachers don’t quite recognize how loud they need to talk when they have a mask on for children to be able to hear them and understand them so practice these things especially with your young children. I would also encourage and this is actually unfortunately a universal not just with young children practice getting your kids used to socializing some of the anecdotal evidence that we’ve heard um even the example of pricking the finger and that fear around what that means. Let’s practice this stuff. How do we engage safely at school so that we don’t get sick or spread germs? but also how do you talk to a new friend? how do you talk to somebody when you don’t recognize them because they have grown in a year and are now wearing a mask covering half of their face? So, gonna kind of revert back to what you did when your young children were little um we just did this with my three-year-old where we practiced three questions that she could ask a new friend um because she has never done that her she doesn’t remember life before a mask um and so we asked okay you know we practice you can say what is your name how old are you and we practiced we role played it. What do you do you know when the little kid says back to you what’s your favorite color or whatever right but i really encourage parents to remember that this has been a whole year with all those very traditional practice and engagement and social experiences for these little ones and again recognize that it takes time for behavior change. Um we can’t expect to just dump a kid back into school and have things go back to whatever way we expected them to be we need to really work with them to get to the places where we expect them to be and the teachers and the parents need to work together to make sure that those expectations are clear and that yes this is a new context you don’t get to lay in your bed during zoom class anymore you need to sit in your chair, you need to respond when the teacher asks you a question, you need to put your phone away. These are the new rules. This is the new context and we need to help you get there. On that note, especially around technology um in the same way that I think we’re seeing our education system really not it wasn’t perfect before the pandemic and it’s not going to be perfect when we get back from the pandemic there’s a lot of conversation about how bad tech has been this year. Just a little heads up that people thought tech was pretty bad in 2019 also and so I don’t want to encourage parents to go back because it didn’t feel like we had that very well under control then either. Um so what I really want us to think about is how to move forward um how to take what we’ve learned and keep going in a way that actually is healthy and more productive in a variety of ways. So here’s my my media clip for the for the presentation but thinking about technology use and education in this way of let’s go to infinity and beyond what do we want to do next what is the future let’s stop looking back um because that wasn’t so great. How are we going to move forward in this new in this new transition? and so in regards to technologies and this has come up in other people’s presentations but I want to highlight a couple of opportunities so Mr. rogers always told us to look for the helpers when talking about people I actually think this is a really good phrase to think about with technology there are a lot of places where tech has saved us emotionally, socially, educationally in terms of health everything in this way and let’s look at where there were the positives um and see how that’s can be used and supported in the future. Um in that same way I really encourage parents and children to talk about their technology use let’s reflect on it let’s actually process it and think about it why do I pull my phone out um the second that I step out the door and i’m all by myself for a minute? Why do i why do i check my phone at the supermarket when i’m in a line? Let’s talk about these and why are we doing it ? and let’s, let’s reflect on it and hear from your kids too they have different reasons but that doesn’t mean that their reasons are wrong. Um similarly I would really encourage you to take baby steps. Someone asked us in the last question if adults can’t do this, how can we expect it of our children but let’s all take some kind of cut like strong thought out intentional baby steps to create more healthier tech use for whatever that means for our families. And then again tech access has changed. Many school districts have purchased internet; they’ve purchased one-to-one tech devices for children that they didn’t have prior to this pandemic. How do we use that access? How do we use that connection to families ? How do we use all of these technology tools in a way that again is more positive moving forward? in our infinity and beyond kind of analogy rather than going backwards to stuff that didn’t work so great before either. So I will pause here. I hope I didn’t take too much time um and I’m happy to answer questions.

 

[Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair]: No, that was fabulous. Here’s a question for you ‘How to scale back video game time and social media specifically when they were the only social outlets during lockdown?”

 

[Dr. Alexis Lauricella]: I think this is a wonderful and really really important question and even in the question you have some important key pieces of information. These were the only social outlets and so I would encourage parents to be aware where they are where children may be getting more social exposure. So if kids are now at soccer practice and at school and doing all these social things, is that A enough social connection um and as the child’s perspective from the student’s perspective um how do we help them move to seeing real world social interaction as an equivalent to online social interaction. Again the data pre pandemic said that a lot of adolescents and college students were much more comfortable having social conversations and social interactions via a screen. Um we saw fear and concern about ordering a pizza on the telephone um and and we saw adolescents engaging in more staying at home behaviors and connecting with social media instead of going to parties we saw um alcohol use going down, we saw sex sexual activity going down. All these in-person social experiences were going down before the pandemic and so this idea that just because now you can go hang out with your friends doesn’t necessarily to the adolescent mind mean that that’s what they want to be doing and so we have to help them get back into that and we should have been helping them do that pre-pandemic and we kind of let that go in some ways and so I would just say be very intentional and and don’t expect adolescents because the the world allows them to be social outside that that’s what they prefer and that’s what they want and we need to have kind of more conversations and more supports in place um and expectations in place for how to move out of that out of that role.

[Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair]: Thank you alexis you know it makes me think about a teenager I had a conversation with who’s just like your three-year-old who needed to needs to practice going to starbucks and making eye contact and ordering a coffee because they have become so scared and, and unpracticed in the simple arts of just you know engaging socially and this is a kid who had social anxiety before and has certainly enjoyed this aspect of the pandemic and now needs to practice again. 

 

[Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair]: And we all need to practice. I think I think it’s easy with little kids because you know they don’t know it yet. um but that’s where they’re sort of reframing of the parent brain that we all we all need this practice we all need to get back on the in the swing of this. And so how do we help developmentally appropriately help all of these age groups do that in a very thoughtful way?

 

[Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair]: Indeed, and we are going to hear more about how to do just that from Dr. Kathleen McGann. Dr McGann has nearly three decades of experience as the pediatric infectious disease physician and over 20 years experience as an educator. She currently serves as the Vice Chair of Education in the Department of Pediatrics and division of infectious diseases at the Duke University Medical Center thank you dr McGann for being with us.

 

[Dr. Kathleen McGann]: Thank you so much Catherine and I also want to really thank the children and screens uh organization for inviting me and for all you do. Which is truly awesome. Um so I’m just gonna start by talking about a Duke University and University of North Carolina initiative, which I’m part of that is going to help inform my discussion about transitioning out related to infectious diseases specifically covid19 disease um because i think that’s obviously a key aspect of the transition. So the ABC Science Collaborative was developed between scientists and physicians along with school and community leaders to really help understand the most current and relevant information about COVID-19 and help inform schools and the superintendents about reopening. So just taking a big picture step let’s look overall at covid cases these are new coveted cases reported in the United States this is as of yesterday or maybe monday and what you can see here are our various surges that we’ve experienced this was our big winter surge and then there is a blip here uh which may indicate a fourth surge. It may not, uh there’s a bit of debate about that and we’re waiting to see what happens. We are concerned that with more and more variants being introduced into the united states which is a normal part of this virus to mutate um that we may start seeing uh a bit of a fourth surge so we’re waiting to see. I just wanted to talk first about some of the learning that we undertook early on about both infections and outbreaks in the pandemic we used information from hospitals and what happened within hospitals with respect to spread and other environments so here you see um to the far left that we actually saw marked transmission associated with child care facilities in Utah early on before they started implementing mitigation measures. However what we then noted, was in Rhode Island when they used mitigation measures even though cases in the community were up, it did not mean cases in schools because we did not see spread be within schools and child care settings which was really exciting. And the other thing we learned I actually love this example from the CDC is that masking really works. This shows two hair stylists who had 139 clients both the stylists and the clients were masked those stylists ended up developing covid19 disease but none of their contacts their work contacts so they’re the people whose hair they did um developed disease. So super exciting and demonstrating that masking works. And then I just wanted to say that when we think about schools schools are it’s very important that schools have a plan and protocols and what we’ve learned from infectious diseases in general and certainly from covid is this sort of swiss cheese uh defense against respiratory viruses and what we’ve recognized is that no single intervention is perfect at preventing spread and so we have multiple approaches that improve our success. And these include the things you’ve been hearing a lot about during this pandemic. So distancing ventilation when possible masking and I mean a good fit of the mask hand hygiene and then testing contact tracing uh when there are individuals who are ill or who have exposed others. So now I just wanted to launch into some re reassuring data about schools reopening when they adhere to the three W’s. So early early on schools closed down as you all know in mid-March through June for most schools because of the concern that schools might spread disease, but in fact we learned over time that schools aren’t responsible for being super spreaders. And in fact data from China, France, Australia demonstrated that Sars Covid w transmission in schools is much less important in contributing to community transmission than than we initially feared and then data within the U.S this article came out in late january talking about both the data and policy to guide safe reopening of schools and limiting the spread of Sars Covid 2 infection and um I quote from their article: “the preponderance of available evidence has been reassuring the rapid spread seen in other settings has not been reported in schools.” And I want to go over a couple of um studies that highlight this the first is actually our study that we did here in North Carolina through the ABC science collaborative in the fall we had 11 school districts with more than 90 000 students and staff and they were open for in-person education for the first nine weeks, that first quarter. And I do want to take a step back and just say that we know individuals are going to come into school with Sars CoV 2  infection or Covid19 infection we know that because there’s community spread our big goal within schools is to prevent within school transmission ideally we would see less community spread also but our goal with schools is to prevent within school transmission. So during this time within school transmissions were actually rare there were 773 individuals that came into school with community acquired infections, but only 32 infections were acquired within school. And there were no cases of student-to-staff transmission. Now, normally with the rate of spread in most communities we would have expected about 800 infections to be due to those 773. So, 32 is remarkably low most of the cases of secondary transmission and all three clusters were actually related to lack of face coverings. Uh, Mississippi also did a study looking at exposures among children 0 to 18 years of age with and without Sars Cov2 infection and they found increased risk of infection was associated with having attended gatherings and social functions outside the home and having had visitors, but not associated with in-person school attendance during the 14 days prior to diagnosis, the time of incubation. And this is a nice infographic about the CDC’s from the CDC about the Missouri data really again driving home that children who attended gatherings and we see this parties, birthday parties, weddings, funerals, play dates are more likely to have tested positive, but not those who who attended child care or were in in person school. And then the other study I want to highlight was from Wisconsin, rural Wisconsin where the CDC reported on data from 17 k through 12 schools who had very high mass adherence and they reported the covid 19 instance was notably lower in schools than in the community. And they looked at 13 weeks in the fall of 2020 where there were 191 covid 19 cases in staff and students and again those are community cases but only seven in school transmissions and this uh is a nice graphic that just shows you the cases in Wood County and then the cases that walked into school from community spread and the markedly low within school spread super reassuring. And really a lot this was attributed to their terrific mask adherence. And I do want to take a step back and say that in our experience students are awesome the children are awesome about wearing masks you make it fun for them, you role model it well and students are really excited about wearing masks, especially little guys like these guys if you can make the masks fun. So we’ve been very impressed at that. And it is often the adults that we have to really work on with masking in the school setting and outside so just to summarize this these studies demonstrate high rates of covid 19 in the community do not mean increased secondary transmission within schools and i do want to say we have another study coming out shortly looking at the winter surge when cases were very high in most of our communities and similarly we found markedly low transmissions within schools schools can mitigate within school virus transmission when students and staff consistently wear masks, use hand hygiene, and practice distancing. Schools are really doing a good job of protecting students and staff which is awesome. I’m not going to go into detail about this because I think other webinars have talked about the major educational and health impacts from the pandemic, but we know beginning of grades school scores, course failures, dropout rates are increasing. and then there’s a lot of mental health and other issues associated with this pandemic and further uh emphasizes the goal to um get us back to normal as soon as we possibly can. The CDC did note because of their critical role for all children and the disproportionate impact that school closures can have on those with the least economic means k through 12 schools should be the last settings to close and the first to reopen when they can do so safely. I’m going to uh just also quickly highlight there’s additional data. Many more studies than I could possibly go through, but from multiple states, Europe, Australia emphasizing again low transmission within schools when mitigation strategies are followed. Appropriately then i just want to briefly talk about the variants that we know are out there so what does a more contagious virus mean for schools young children are were about half as likely as adults to transmit the variant to others which was true of the original virus variants. Nevertheless, spread more easily among both children and adults and it’s estimated that some of these new variants, the British, the UK one, the South African one can be anywhere from 30 to 80 percent more contagious than the original virus. Um in the U.S we’ve talked about mutant viruses are starting to spread the key with variants that i want to make here the key point is to remain vigilant with masking distancing and hand hygiene those same mitigation strategies that work with the variants were that worked with the regular virus work with the variants. And then you may ask when are we going to be back to normal? So, Dr. Fauci said rather than concentrating on an elusive number like the herd immunity we’ve been talking about earlier let’s get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we can so the more individuals who are protected and vaccinated the better we have decreased number of infections which leads to decreased viral spread which leads to decreased morbidity and mortality from this virus. So we have an ongoing sense of urgency to vaccinate before the variants surge. So let’s talk a little bit about vaccination, again these are quick overviews given the time but there are this compares four Sars CoV 2 vaccines you’ve heard a lot about thePfizer and Moderna which used the same mechanism of action their mRNA vaccines and had surprisingly terrific efficacy or protection against disease. 94 and 95, relatively. um Johnson and Johnson will talk a little bit more about but again high protection from severe disease and moderate to severe disease. and Astrazeneca is actually not rolled out here in the states. And I just want to emphasize that 16 and up have been approved by an EUA for the pfizer vaccine, so how does vaccine look in the US? The rollout has been going quite well overall, but we still have work to do 85 million one dose recipients and 132.3 have received two doses. Um and you’ll see that we are hoping by the summer we will have a preponderance of adults immunized. How do we know vaccines are safe? We look at clinical trials and long-standing post-licensure systems. And we know there are side effects from these uh mRNA vaccines uh it the side effects are actually thought related to our great immune response and protection. There are some rare events that are noted that I’m not going to have time to go into in detail but we’re being very careful about those. And the exciting thing is we have new data up to six months after the second dose of the mrna vaccine showing 91 ongoing protection. Uh briefly i’m going to mention the J and J vaccine that those vaccinations were paused due to cerebral blood cuts and low platelets in six women who received the vaccine that was six out of 6.85 million vaccinations. I do want to put that in context of when other ins higher incidence settings of clots with covid disease itself we see uh very high incidence birth control pills, smoking, and other risk factors for clots just to put that in in perspective per million. And the the really good thing about this is the robust vaccine safety surveillance system has picked this up they’ve put the vaccine on pause. Rhe ACIP is currently the immunization practices committee reviewing the data and has another meeting planned for this friday with several possible results in their recommendations which I’ve outlined here. I just want to quickly talk about pediatric vaccines so currently in younger children we’re doing dosing studies to see what dose is appropriate for both protection um and side effects and then we will roll out larger enrollments. So why vaccinate children? They comprise 23 to 25 percent of our population and we want to protect children. Also they too have had had disease not near as much as adults and older adults, but they’ve suffered morbidity and mortality from Covid. Current predictions about when the vaccines will be available um the pfizer vaccine is currently under an request for an EUA and so 12 to 15 year olds may be able to receive the vaccine as early as this summer the data looks incredibly protective and quite good in them. And then the younger children later in the winter and maybe early 2022 and this is just the roll out of the vaccines in children and again the emergency youth author authorization that’s been requested and hopefully we’ll hear more either the end of this month or in may and then um just in summary, I know there’s a whirlwind tour through infection and Sars CoV 2. But, in summary Sars Cov2 is not going away anytime soon schools are a safe environment for children and teachers if mitigation strategies are followed. I know we are all really tired of wearing masks and hand hygiene and distancing but we have to continue to be vigilant when we’re seeing this blip in cases with masking distancing hand hygiene and again. I really want to encourage vaccination um it’s really important to decrease spread locally and globally. I was fortunate to get my first one on december 24th. It was my Christmas gift. um and i just want to thank you all again and i’m happy to answer questions.

 

[Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair]: Oh thank you Kathleen. One quick question,  how often should teachers or students themselves wipe down their desks and the shared spaces in schools?

 

[Dr. Kathleen McGann]: Yeah so this is really interesting and the CDC is probably going to change their more vigilant cleanin recommendations.There have not been very many case reports of fomite spread, so that means spread from if i touch a pen and give it to somebody else much more likely to spread through the respiratory route. So through droplets. That said if somebody’s going to share a pen or share a piece of chalk or um or wipe down their desk then I would wipe dow. If the child’s still using the desk they can continue using it, but if they’re if another child is going to sit in the desk I would recommend wiping that desk down. Similarly, if you’re going to share a pen please hand sanitize and wipe down the pen. We are trying to, even though i’ve said foamite spread is very uncommon, we are trying to encourage people to avoid sharing when possible. I know we like kids to learn sharing but this is not the time to learn uh to share things like pens and that type of thing and to use their own and keep their own crayons pens that type of thing whenever possible 

[Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair]: So helpful. Interested to hear what these new regulations are going to be as we continue to learn more. Thank you so much really actually a very reassuring and optimistic uh report today from you thank you. So now we’re gonna shift over to general um Q&A and discussion and um let’s see i’m gonna start off with one question that’s already come in and that’s “how do we help to support marginalized families do all this when they don’t have the means either financial emotional or time wise?” Anybody want to jump at that maybe Alexis.

 

[Dr. Alexis Lauricella]: I can jump in. I think this is a really critical conversation and unfortunately one that is not being talked about in a lot of these spaces and is not coming up explicitly that we are seeing massive divides again um in terms of education and resources, time, mental health all of these variables between uh based on families and their status whether they’re both both parents are working out of the house. Whether we’re talking about income um and we i think from an education standpoint and a kind of just general standpoint need to be having these conversations and i’m hopeful that we can begin to provide kind of disproportionate support to those who need more time and effort. And so I, I think some school districts have begun to do this in the way that they’ve invited children back into the classroom and who’s been invited back at different rates to provide more support for families who might need it. So if there isn’t a parent at home those children might get to go back to school before everybody gets to go back and providing um kind of district-wide care uh so that kids could do remote learning in a context where they’re cared for. Um I don’t have an answer but i think what we need to just be very aware of is that people certain families are going to need more support and we should be putting more support out so that so the individual parents don’t need to be taking all of that load. Another kind of asterisk there is to be careful for what that looks like and to not be stereotyping and making assumptions because again we don’t really have a good feel for what families life have been like this year and so those who may not land into categories that we’ve traditionally seen as needing more supports may still be needing more support this year um for a variety of reasons because of covid. So I can start there. 

 

[Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair]: Thanks. David, I’m wondering what you’ve seen schools do either after 911 or Katrina we know there’s going to be a huge or maybe not huge but a significant increase in the mental health needs of kids for a variety of different kinds of grief and loss as you so you know wisely clarified and differentiated for us. Can you tell us about anything you see going on on a national level or how we’re going to address these increased uh mental health needs supports for children in years ahead? 

 

[Dr. David Schonfeld]: Well I think there are a couple things that we can do and already is being done in many school districts. One is trying to increase the skills and comfort level of all staff so that would include classroom educators but really support staff too. I did a webinar for the school nutrition association because people who worked in the cafeteria said we want to know how to help kids. We used to hug them we can’t do that what can we do so I think we need to have everyone feel more comfortable providing what I would often refer to as psychological first aid just how how are you supportive how are you helpful to people who are in distress that’s a skill everyone in the school system should have regardless of whether we’re in a pandemic, but i also am seeing now some infusion of funds to states that can be used specifically for increasing both mental health staffing as well as resources to providing mental health. So um you know after 911 and we worked closely with New York City schools they had free mental health in every school throughout the school system. And early in the pandemic I was saying I don’t anticipate we’re going to see that level of funding for every school in the country, but actually in the current administration there is some effort to do some of that. So I think it’s it’s coupling uh general preparedness and skill set and making sure we level the field so everyone interacting with the child knows how to be supportive um and then providing additional services to those who who would benefit from it.

 

[Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair]: That’s great. You know I too have been working with schools and one of the things i’m seeing schools doing is shifting schedule and time to do both more training for teachers in social emotional tools and to make accommodations in the calendar so advisories extended time. So kids are learning more social emotional tools for self-regulation and also DEI tools difficult conversations how to talk about the political moment that is also the source of so much stress and and anxiety and fear in kids right now so i think people are really beginning to think that when we think about the core curriculum and what matters we have to really revision what are the tools kids need to be psychologically and and socially equipped to to learn together in the world they’re living in right now and it is a very different world than anything we’ve ever seen before. Okay should, ah Cami I think this is for you. “Should schools be enforcing quarantine after exposure and how do you do this in a supportive way that doesn’t overburden teachers?

 

[Dr. Kathleen McGann]:  Yeah so the the current recommendation is that if there’s an exposure um and and so it varies depending on the state, but if there is a definitive exposure then those who were exposed to have to be quarantined for either the seven days if a test is done ten days if asymptomatic and being followed carefully or the full 14 days. So it gets a little confusing in there we are very hopeful with some of our new data that we’re going to be able to demonstrate that if both for example the teacher and the child were masked and there was an exposure that you really can do not need to quarantine as vigilantly as we have been, but that is really not ready for prime time yet because we’re waiting for the CDC to come out with recommendations about quarantine based on data that we’re accumulating now. What we are seeing is that the vast majority of those exposed are not developing disease, especially when the child and the teacher are masked um so hopefully that will change, but right now those quarantines do are still happening and need to happen.

 

[Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair]: Thank you 

 

[Dr. Kathleen McGann]: This is within school transmissions obviously.

 

[Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair]: And another related question, um “how can lunch be considered safe when it’s unmasked and windows are closed and how can we create social opportunities to replace things like lunchtime that are traditionally social?” 

 

[Dr. Kathleen McGann]: So that’s an awesome question we actually have recommendations on our website about lunch because that is that was frankly where we were seeing spread in hospitals between nurses and break rooms. We were seeing it with staff at school in break rooms. So we have some pretty uh pretty strong uh opinions about how to do lunch safely we recommend that people are six feet apart. We’re lucky because we’re in North Carolina so the weather isn’t uh is what has been pretty mild overall. We really encourage kids to have lunch outside, if possible, where um where there’s less uh exposure to each other. Um we ask them to be six feet apart the other thing we’ve asked children to do is to stay masked, to prepare their lunch, put their straws in their milk. unwrap their sandwich. get everything ready still masked, eat in silence. Which I realize is really hard, but most kids eat in five to ten minutes super quickly put their mask back on and then they can chat and socialize. So that’s what we’ve been recommending and the questionnaire is exactly right the the that is a high-risk time is during eating when masks are down um so we’ve we’ve had some pretty strong recommendations that are again on our website um.

 

[Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair]: Okay well thank you anything else anybody wants to say? And my colleagues up here that you’re want last thought you want to offer a last tip you might want to offer. 

 

[Dr. Alexis Lauricella]: I just think on that note too just rethinking when the social times in the school space are. So they’ve been traditionally been lunch and recess, but that doesn’t mean they have to be the only times and so for hearing very clearly that masked socialization is probably the safest to try to encourage teachers to find spaces for that to happen so that lunch can be the rushed get your food down um and just eat situation. I, I love to hear that thank you

 

[Dr. Kathleen McGann]: That’s great yeah that’s a great suggestion 

 

[Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair]: David one last thought from you.

 

[Dr. David Schonfeld]: Well one of the things that I would just say to parents in particular is something that was already mentioned. Just because we don’t know everything to do, doesn’t mean we don’t know anything, it doesn’t mean we haven’t done something of value. So this is actually an opportunity to focus on what you can do uh with your child within the limitations that you have particularly over the summer and um i would say we we probably should be focusing less on what we can’t do um. It’s unfortunate i’m not trying to minimize the loss we certainly have to acknowledge it but we don’t have to dwell on it kids do have the capacity, you know everybody keeps saying well they missed graduation. Children have missed graduation before some kids actually chose not to go some people travel out of the country around graduation time. Children will adapt to most of those changes, so again i think we have to focus on what we can do and um and not focus so much on what was lost. But acknowledge the losses that did occur.

 

[Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair]: So i’m just going to lift up that message and say  um the first one is that this generation has and this sounds pollyannaish, but i really do believe it is having an experience where they are going to develop the capacity for born out of a horrible experience, but when we look at the life skills that people need to thrive resilience is way high up there. And kids have been challenged and they’re going to come through this in ways that they never would have had the opportunity to actually learn and as David said kids miss years of school because they’re sick or their family circumstances change and they have to repeat a year. They will come through this. And the last thing I want to add is that when we look at the research on who thrives in a pandemic or who thrives in a crisis um the blitz it was one of the things that comes out over and over again that creates resilience and optimism in children during very stressful times is a consistent connection to a calm parent who holds optimism in the face of a lot of scary stuff going on around you. So, in when the bombs were falling it was the mom or the grandma who said okay grab your books we’re going down into the shelter. Not the one who said you know they’re more about you’re thinking at we’re hearing all the research we’ve heard today, but as parents and educators it is so important that we communicate to our kids whether they’re our students our children and certainly to the people who are depending on us a sense of optimism or in this together and we are going to get through this together. And i’m going to introduce reintroduce Pam who has helped all of us get through this together through this wonderful series. Pamela wrapped it up for us please. 

 

[Dr. Pam Hurst-Della Pietra]: thank you Catherine, David, Alexis, and Kathleen for sharing your insights foresight, experience, and truly outstanding advice to all of us. And as we go through this uncertain time the tools you provided us no doubt will make this transition much much much smoother. Thanks to all of you our zoom participants for joining us. To continue learning about this topic be sure to visit our website at childrenscreens.com and read our tips for parents and other resources. We’ll post a video of today’s webinar on our youtube channel to which we encourage you all to subscribe and share with your fellow parents, teachers, clinicians, researchers, and friends. For more from Children and Screens please follow us on instagram, facebook, twitter, and linkedin at the account shown on your screen. In addition, please keep an eye out for the results from three studies about digital media use and outcomes that during covid that Children and Screens began funding at the start of the pandemic. These studies extended and extend ongoing longitudinal research to allow us to investigate how digital media use changed in the midst of the pandemic and what this digital media use means for children, adolescents , academics, social, social emotional, psychological, and physical health outcomes. This data will be hugely important as we continue to react to data and transition out of the pandemic in healthy ways. Our conversation addressing children’s well-being and digital media will continue on Wednesday May 5th when we discuss young people’s engagement in civic activities and participatory politics both on and offline. When you leave the workshop you’ll see a link to a short survey. Please click on the link and let us know what you thought of the webinar. Thanks for joining us today. Everyone be safe and well!