Wait, what? Did she just say FIRST September? Yes,*sigh* I did. It’s a sobering thought to think about the longevity of the COVID19 public health crisis. Through Pinnacle Partnerships, we ran a series of Lunch and Learns soon after schools closed in March. As Dahyana and I talked with professionals and parents about shifting to an 'anticipatory mindset' in planning for COVID19 to be a long road to plan for; many folks thought kids would be back in school by the spring. Almost no one was planning for a fall return until we reached June. Prior to that, it seemed inconceivable.
This doesn’t make anyone wrong, it makes us all learners and change is hard. Living through a pandemic, we've learned, is hard, Planning for the unknown seems impossible. No one wanted to even consider the kids being out of school for 6 months. And for parents raising kids with mental health and/or neurodevelopmental challenges, that seemed like an absolute nightmare. A change in routine of that magnitude… how would we survive???
However, in the words of author Glennon Doyle, “we can do hard things.” We have made it through the spring, summer, and now through September! Parents, caregivers, teachers, and other community members have risen to the challenge and found a way to make this reentry back into the school year.
CHECK US OUT!!! SUPERHEROES!
It’s bumpy. But we’re strapped into this roller coaster and we are surviving it. Yes… less thrilling, but still packed with action. And not all superheroes wear capes. Some wear aprons or tool belts… for me— yoga pants. I wonder where I can get a pair of my yoga pants monogrammed with the SuperWOMAN “S”? But I digress…
So, here we are back to school in a pandemic. Things aren’t standardized. with kids in school remote, hybrid, full in-person, and parents often mirroring their work schedules to the kids’ schedules. How’s everyone’s mental health?? I’ll start… definitely diminished. Ha! Y’all know I’m putting that lightly, right? I’m exhausted, pretty edgy, somehow always hungry (ugh), but holding steady. I can do hard things. I’m not ashamed that some nights I have cookies for dinner… with wine… in bed.
How is mental health holding up for the kids in your home? I’ll go first… How can I put this? Remember when I talked about the roller coaster we’re on? My kids’ mental health is on the roller coaster next to ours that moves much faster, has lots of twists and turns, flips and spirals. It looks scarier than our roller coaster. But I have successfully strapped them in and they aren’t falling out. So, to me, that’s a win. Plus, there has been a huge spike in youth reporting mental health concerns, depression, and anxiety since COVID began. We are not alone and it's nothing to feel ashamed about.
In this white knuckle world, there are so many things to contend with. Many people have contracted this virus, have died, have been isolated. Deciding to send your child back to school actually can feel like a life or death decision if their granddad or Abuela lives with you. Essential workers are risking their health to make sure we have meds and toilet paper and groceries. Shout out to my grocery delivery service. I have no idea why I ever even entered a grocery store. In our Lunch and Learns, called “Silver Lining: Lessons Learned for Educators in a Pandemic,” we spent a lot of time focusing on the positives. It’s who we are as people and as a company. And we believe in community, support, and that anything is possible through with faith and by facing fears, even when it’s this hard. We have spent lots of time planning with others and expanding our business to support families as well as professionals.
We recognize that even when keeping our eyes fixed on the Silver Linings, the clouds are still rolling by and there are still thunderstorms, passing rain, and sun showers. And as meteorology goes, especially here in New England, it’s hard to predict, or even trust what we hear. And we still have lots to contend with. Keeping masks on, will we get our children flu shots, assessing if their education goals are being met, especially is they have an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). We'll keep forging forward, but we'll need support in processing this. To paraphrase the late, great, Honorable Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg- 'you can't throw away your umbrella in the middle of a rainstorm just because you aren't getting wet.'
Dahyana and I coined the repercussions of this current event we are collectively living through as a #PandemicTrauma. Like most traumas, we'll need support now and into the future. So if you’ve asked yourself lately whether your runny nose is allergies or the coronavirus, you’re not alone. If you’ve connected with anything in this blog, it’s because you are surviving right along with us, even when it doesn’t feel like it. How do we stay steady to the course? I implore you to think ahead. Plan for COVID being around for a while, so things don’t feel so stressful. If it gets under control more quickly… BONUS POINTS! And if it doesn’t, you’re prepared. Teachers and parents CONNECT with each other. The 4 walls of our houses and the school buildings are down. We have a great opportunity here to shift the way students, teachers, and families work together for success… on everyone’s side. Because this isn’t about sides. This is a collective human experience we are going through together. Let’s make it great. Maybe even celebrate with a cookie dinner tonight.
If you are interested in participating in a Lunch and Learn series, attending/hosting one of our workshops, or learning more about building partnerships between schools and families, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you need resources, our COVID19 Resource Page is still up and being updated, just click here.
We are in this together.
Pinnacle Partnerships Co-Founder & Chief Experience Officer, Kristi Glenn, is shifting the landscape of children’s behavioral health care through raising family-driven treatment to the highest elevation. Using her personal experiences as the parent of a child with significant mental health needs, Kristi has created a platform integrating families, professionals, natural supports, and other stakeholders together.
Kristi’s work includes coaching and training to true family-centered practices, creating collaborative teams, quality assurance and technical assistance, and supporting cultural change in agencies. Kristi has presented in multiple conferences, webinars and has served in many volunteer capacities such as board service, committees to reduce risk, restraint and seclusion, faith-based organizations, education advisory committees, and much more.
Kristi believes Family Partners, and other professionals with the lived experience of raising children with mental health challenges, are the cornerstone to the evolution of children