Liz Devine, counselor for the Diocese of Scranton’s elementary schools in Lackawanna County, offered guidance for parents and children to help them while they remain out of school during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think it is vitally important for ALL students to follow the advice of local, State and Federal officials to stay home,” she wrote in an email. “While it is difficult to be away from friends and extended family, it is the responsible and appropriate thing to do to stem the tide of the virus. This time off from school is not for playdates or getting together with each other. While social distancing can challenge our mental and emotional well-being, there are a few things we can do (to) ground ourselves in this unsettled time.”

Devine’s recommendations include:

  • Social distancing does not mean emotional distancing; use technology to connect wisely.
  • Establish clear routines and a daily schedule for home, but don’t go overboard.
  • Exercise and engage in physical activity every day, if possible.
  • Continue learning and intellectual engagement through classwork, books, reading and limited internet use.
  • Engage in positive family time to counter negativity.
  • Spend some time alone — outdoors if possible — but also indoors. Just remember not to isolate yourself.
  • Do focused meditation and relaxation.
  • Remember the things you really enjoy doing and that you can do in this situation, and find a way to do them.
  • Limit your exposure to TV and online news. Choose small windows to consume information and then find ways to cleanse yourself of it.
  • Bathe daily if possible to reinforce the feeling of cleanliness.
  • Remind yourself that things eventually will improve and return to normal. Try to live in the moment; think about today and less about the next three days — and even less about next week.

Devine also compiled a guide to online lessons and activities to keep kids busy:

For more about Devine and the work she does with children in the diocese, check back here this Sunday for our interview with her.