Supporting Schools During COVID-19
Resources & Links for Schools
Support with bereavement during COVID-19
Death and dying has changed because of the COVID-19 situation.
Death is talked about repeatedly in the media and as a topic of conversation within families.
We have also seen the impact Coronavirus has had on the death rates worldwide.
Anyone who has been bereaved during the period of lockdown and social distancing, may also have lost the opportunity to be a part of the common rituals we would normally participate in following a death.
The situation has created isolation, limited human connection and our access to normal coping strategies – this all has a big impact on how we grieve.
For any child or young person bereaved, from any cause of death during this time you may find the following resources useful:
Advice on Supporting Children Bereaved During the COVID-19 Situation & How to Explain Coronavirus to Children
For anyone faced with someone being seriously ill during this time, the following resources may provide some guidance and ideas:
We would advise schools and settings to communicate with their school community.
Begin by finding out which families, or staff members, may have been impacted by COVID-19 illness or bereavement in any way.
At this time of being disconnected, families may not think to inform school of their experiences.
If a school are faced with a significant bereavement within the school community then the following checklist may give some guidance:
Make contact with any bereaved families or staff members and offer condolences.
Where it is possible, offer a face to face call on Skype/Teams (or pre-record a video to send).
Remember, human connection is important! Just seeing a familiar face can be emotionally regulating.
For children not already attending school (or one of your school hubs) during the lockdown phase, cosider if the bereaved child may (if safe to do so) benefit from attending school to reconnect in some way (following Social Distancing and Government Guidance). This may also provide a time of much needed respite for grieving parents/carers during a traumatic time.
Check with the family about their current support network – how are they communicating with people and ask if they need support in getting their basic needs met?
Signpost to Penhaligon’s Friends and Cornwall Bereavement Network for up to date information on practical and emotional support available.
Send a card by post to let the student and family know they are being thought of.
When things begin to return to some normality, things may still be difficult for a while.
Families may remain distant from each other for some time, it will take time for everyone to feel a sense of safety and predictability again. Children and staff may be returning to school more anxious than they were before.
Try to acknowledge this when you return to school.
Explain that this time apart has been difficult and although it is nice to be back together, it doesn’t mean we have forgotten the difficulties. We haven’t forgotten the people who have died and understand how hard it may be still going forward for a while.
You may feel able to hold a special candle ceremony or a drink & biscuit time over a lunchtime for staff and students who want time to reflect. This will allow them to think and process their feelings in a space that is different from the environment they have been confined to grieving in at home.
Death & grief are prominent topics that will be around for some time as we recover from this time of national crisis. Remember that this is also an opportunity to hold healthy conversations about death, dying and emotions.
Together, as a school community, it is likely you can build more emotional resilience through talking, sharing and working together on positive coping strategies.
Try to make yourself and your staff/colleagues familiar with Psychological First Aid. This resource has been put together by The World Health Organisation:
Other things schools can be doing to manage bereavement in a positive way
Carry out an audit on bereavement support in your school, then download and use the logo to show your commitment to supporting bereaved children in education. This audit tool has been created by the Childhood Bereavement Network:
Dr Pooky Knightsmith has some great ideas to share about supporting bereaved children with 3 activities.
Other useful resources for use with students:
Postcards for use with bereaved children & young people during the coronavirus shutdown. School staff may be able to email these to the child/young person or print and post them.
- grief-support-for-self young person
Read stories and have discussions about what the characters experience and how they may feel;
Remember! This is a new situation to all of us so you may not do it all perfectly – you are only human!
If you would like to talk more about how your school can support bereaved students and families please get in touch with us on 01209 210624.
For those who joined our online schools session;
For School Leaders: