The advice in combatting coronavirus for elementary and middle school students is much the same as it is for adults — wash your hands, often, and well. Get between your fingers and under your fingernails.
“The virus does not like soap,” Anthony Santella, a public health professor at Hofstra University, said during a webinar attended by a mix of parents, kids and those who work with students. Attendees were from all over — Long Island, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey, Texas, Washington state, and included one from as far away as Kenya.
The information and words used to present the information are oriented toward children. Santella is repeating the webinar through the end of May, and is adding sessions oriented toward high schoolers. Those interested can get the schedule and register for free upcoming webinars sessions at links on his web page, anthonyjsantella.com.
Some other questions he addresses are how to stay connected with friends — Facetime and texting; how to take care of yourself if you’re ill — stay home and rest; how you know if you’re sick — talk to an adult if you feel ill so they can help you learn if it’s a cold or the flu or the coronavirus; and what’s involved in a coronavirus test — a medical person who is wearing protective gear to keep them safe uses a long swab like a Q-tip to take samples from your nose and throat and sends them to a lab for analysis.
Santella and his nieces, 6th-grader Alexa Lacomis and 4th-grader Audra Lacomis from Norwalk, Conn., put together about a 45-minute presentation on “What Every Elementary/Middle School Student Needs to Know about the Novel Coronavirus.” About 35 minutes of the session are Santella, with some help from his nieces, presenting information on what a virus is, how it spreads, what to do and not do, and where and when it started. He explains what public health covers, his nieces offer tips on how to safely stay connected with friends, and the session ends with a Q&A session with group members asking their questions via a chat box in the Zoom session.
Coronavirus is part of a family of viruses that have been around for a long time, but it is what he called “a new fruit” in that family. He explained how scientists named it COVID-19 — CO for corona, from the spikes around its exterior that help it enter our cells; VI for virus; D for disease; and 19 for the year it was discovered, 2019.
He said he also can lead a session for a specific group if members are interested in that, noting he’s been contacted by a Girl Scout council and a school in Manhattan about having him lead sessions for their members
Interested people can register at anthonyjsantella.com and get the list of free sessions that will be available starting March 29. Times include:
* Elementary/middle school students: Tuesdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 3 p.m. and
* High school students: Thursdays and Sundays at 7:30 p.m.
After someone registers, he sends an email with the link to the Zoom session, and then sends a reminder before the session. He asks those attending to download Zoom and log in a few minutes early so the session can start on time.