top of page

Long Covid and Education: 10 Frequently Asked Questions and Best Practice Summaries

Long Covid Kids have produced an Education Tool Kit for Supporting Children and Young People (CYP) with Long Covid (launching very soon). This tool kit comprises of a series of four videos and an accompanying handbook to raise awareness and understanding of Long Covid among educators. The four videos in the series cover the following areas:

  • An Introduction to Long Covid in Children

  • Returning to Education

  • The Impact of Long Covid on Education and the Family

  • Supporting Children with Long Covid in the Classroom

As we were developing this training, we asked educators in different roles and working across the age phases to review the content of the materials. We also asked them for any additional questions that they would like answering if they were viewing this training for the first time.


Long Covid Kids. Education Tool Kit.

Below you will find the answers and best practice summaries to the educator's frequently asked questions from:

Dr Sue Peters, LCK Education Team Lead and Educational Psychologist

Kirsty Stanley, LCK Health Team Lead and Occupational Therapist


Long Covid Kids. Dr Sue Peters.  Education and Long Covid. FAQ













1. What changes can be made to school policies and what can we put in place behind the scenes to support children with Long Covid?


Answer - Have a look at the Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions guidance. Children and young people with medical conditions are entitled to a full education and have the same rights of admission to school as other children. This means that no child with a medical condition can be denied admission or be prevented from taking up a place in school because arrangements for their medical condition have not been made. Governing bodies should therefore ensure that the focus is on the needs of each individual child and how their medical condition impacts on their school life.


Communicating with families, liaising with medical professions, seeking out information on Long Covid and asking the child about their needs and the best ways to support them can all take place behind the scenes to ensure that children and young people with Long Covid are supported in the best ways possible.

Long Covid Kids Logo


2. How can we educate other children in school and the wider school community about Long Covid and give them an understanding of what some of their peers may be going through (even if they are masking their difficulties)?


Answer - In the same way that you might talk to other children or the wider school community about a child’s illness or needs… sensitively and in conjunction with the child and their family.


LCK have collated resources for talking to children on the Long Covid Kids - Schools and Education Professionals padlet, for example Talking to children about illness and will be producing a video specifically for children and young people. This will contain video clips of children and young people talking about their experiences which can be shared with their peers. We ask that this be made available and visible to all students and that opportunities are given for them to discuss any questions that they may have after watching the video. The burden of answering questions should not fall to individuals with Long Covid. As an example the video could be used in PSHE lessons or assemblies. It will help to specifically talk about some illnesses being invisible and that some symptoms can come and go and that some children will cope or mask at school as they don’t want to seem different but will fall asleep or be in pain when they get home.

The more parents and the wider school community are aware, the more they will understand the importance of maintaining friendships and connections with children with Long Covid.


Long Covid Kids. Dr Sue Peters.  Education FAQ

3. How can we best support transitions to other schools?


Answer - Share information in the way that you would usually share information with the next school, but in particular share the information and resources you have found to be useful on Long Covid. Share the strategies which have helped and how you have been able to support the child to access their education, feel included and make progress. Endings are important milestones, e.g. at the end of year 6. If the child with Long Covid has missed out on ‘endings’, find ways to include them, ask them how they would like to be involved or find alternative ways to mark the ending.





4. How can we ensure air quality in classrooms?


Alongside the support children need to access their learning, it is important to also ensure they are breathing clean air to minimize the risk of further infection and worsening or further symptoms.


As well as children and young people, many schools also have staff who are living with Long Covid. Fresh air positively impacts upon the learning experiences of all, and can contribute to good health and minimise absences.


Further information for educational settings on CO2 monitors and Hepa filters can be found:



Download a template letter to Request Clean Air in your School


Long Covid Kids. Clean Air

5. How can we keep in touch and ensure we keep a connection with a child if they are unable to come to school for a while?


Answer - If you are a class teacher, teaching assistant or form tutor, you may be able to keep in contact with pupils who are unable to attend, and include them as much as possible in what is happening in school so they continue to feel a connection and know that they will be welcomed back once well enough to return. This might include video calls, emails, phone calls, letters or postcards. Ask the child how they would like to keep in touch. Some children remain keen to participate with learning, even if they are unable to manage school attendance, so providing opportunities to see what their classmates are doing, choose what to engage with depending on their condition, and receiving feedback on any work they are able to submit might also be important.




6. How do we support a child who is so upset about their condition that they won't ask for help, or use their ‘get out of class for a break’ card as they don’t want to be seen as different from their peers?


Answer - First of all it will be important to show the child that you have some awareness of what they are going through and can empathise with their difficult feelings. You could find ways for the child to ask for help or to ask for a break which are more subtle, or even a secret signal which is only known by you and the child if that is what is preventing them from asking for help. The child will probably have ideas about the type of support which will help them and how they would like to communicate this. If they find it difficult to initiate ‘asking’, regular check-ins can help. You may also need to provide alternate non-verbal ways of expressing how they are managing or asking for help, e.g feelings cards, visual scales etc. Supporting them to have trusted classmates engaging with them in a different way may also help, for example, working with a peer somewhere more quiet for a self-directed portion of a lesson or allowing peers to remain inside with them at breaks or lunch.




7. How can we support the emotional needs of children and young people with Long Covid?


Answer - There is a lot you can do to support children’s emotional needs. First of all, it can be helpful to try and understand what the child’s emotional needs are and how they are communicating these.


The iceberg analogy can be helpful to guide your thinking on what might be going on for a child beneath the surface. Long Covid symptoms are often invisible but may be having a big impact upon the child’s functioning in a range of areas.


Long Covid Kids. Dr Sue Peters. Education. FAQ. Iceberg analogy


Once you are clearer about what the child is communicating and why, whether this is because they are feeling anxious, feeling socially isolated or experiencing changes to their sense of self you can then tailor any specific strategies to these feelings.



8. How can we support a child who is now having sensory difficulties?


Answer - You will need to be aware that busy, noisy spaces such as the lunch hall may feel overwhelming for some children. Some children prefer to be able to eat their lunch in a quieter alternative location. Some children experience loss or distortions of their sense of smell and taste which can affect their quality of life and feelings about food and eating. Other children may have visual changes post-Covid. It is helpful to listen to the experiences of children, ask parents and caregivers how they manage this at home, offer them alternatives where possible and liaise with the relevant professionals. Allowing children to use accommodations such as fidget toys, loop or flare ear plugs, noise cancelling headphones and sunglasses may also help, as well as supporting them to take movement breaks or change position if needed.



9. How can we support a child who is experiencing stigma or bullying and how can we best tackle unkind comments made about children living with Long Covid?


Answer - Children have told us that living with Long Covid is difficult and that they can experience some bullying and stigma. Experiencing bullying and stigma can have a huge impact upon access to education, the child’s sense of school belonging, their self esteem, mental health and overall outcomes.


Rosie Pidgeon is a teenager with Long Covid and uses her art to illustrate how children and young people can experience this.


Rosie Pidgeon. Long Covid Kids. I am Still Here

Whole school assemblies, PSHE lessons and circle times are some ways that schools tackle bullying and stigma. Providing information about Long Covid at a level that the other children can understand will help to build awareness and empathy. Discussions can focus on individual differences, i.e. that all children have things that they are good at and things that they need more help with. Bullying that is based on Ableism needs to be taken as seriously as bullying based on any other protected characteristic.


10. What is Ableism and how this might impact those with Long Covid?


Answer - Ableism is discrimination of and social prejudice against people with disabilities. It is based on the assumption that disabled people require ‘fixing’ and therefore defines people by their disability and can lead to the development of harmful stereotypes, misconceptions and generalisations. Like racism and sexism it can be unconsciously enacted and is often structural in nature. Educators need to begin questioning commonly held beliefs and routine practices to ensure they do not disadvantage those with disabilities.


Some actions that can be taken to challenge ableism against children and young people with Long Covid are:

  • Appreciating that there is currently no cure, and no fixes for Long Covid, and that although some children and young people do recover well over time or find a way to manage symptoms, that there are those who don’t, and that their needs should be accommodated by reviewing factors outside themselves such as amendments to policies or provision of additional support.

  • That the Equality Act 2010 is considered where children and young people (CYP) are likely to meet the definition of disabled (which is independent of diagnosis). And that reasonable accommodations/adjustments are given due consideration. That as soon as it looks likely that the disability is likely to last more than a year that consideration is given as to whether an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) should be applied for.

  • That reasonable adjustments are not denied on the fact that “they give an advantage” over other CYP. Individual adjustments are designed to overcome barriers, but you can also consider more broadly accessible and inclusive practices where possible.

  • Be aware of the common experience of internalised ableism in the child/young person themselves and acknowledge that their experience in school may reflect them functioning on a good day, or them masking pain or discomfort to ‘cope’, ‘fit in’ and be ‘as normal’ as their friends and classmates. Accepting that you have ongoing health challenges is a process, and one that CYP may need additional time and support to do.


Resources


Resources and support materials for education professionals and school staff can be found on the Long Covid Kids website: Schools | Long Covid Kids


Blog written by:


Long Covid Kids: Dr Sue Peters, Educational Psychologist

LCK Education Team Lead and Educational Psychologist




19th September 2023

 

Support Our Work


While children are living with life-changing symptoms and families struggle to seek appropriate support, we need to be here.

Your donation will be used directly to support families living with Long Covid and related illnesses.

Find out more about our Impact.






Comments

Couldn’t Load Comments
It looks like there was a technical problem. Try reconnecting or refreshing the page.
bottom of page