More and more teachers are seeking advice on how to deal with pupil bereavement in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, a charity has revealed.
The Winston’s Wish charity, which supported more than 17,000 bereaved children in the UK last year, says there has been a “huge spike” in the past two days in visits to its web page for schools.
The charity is offering advice to schools and teachers about situations where usual bereavement strategies can’t be put into place because of school closures or families self-isolating.
Related: 7 ways to help pupil mental health
Coronavirus: Teacher protection 'a matter of urgency'
A charity spokesperson said: “When someone dies, the grieving process is isolating, so to be self-isolating as well – at a time when you need social support – is highly challenging.
Coronavirus: How teachers can support grieving pupils
“Some of our advice [for schools] is about staying in touch in other ways, whether it’s through video calls, WhatsApp or [the app] Houseparty [among other ways].
“The key is human contact. When physical contact is being challenged that doesn’t mean emotional connection has to go as well.”
The charity’s advice includes suggested language to use when telling a pupil someone has died from coronavirus, as well as ways for “saying goodbye” if you can’t meet a loved one face-to-face.
It says traffic to its schools page was 37 per cent higher in the last week of March than the same week last year.
“In particular, there has been a huge spike in the last two days,” added the spokesperson.
“We are definitely seeing a greater proportion of calls and emails from schools, in comparison to families, than we would normally expect.
“The situation [with coronavirus] can be hard to explain and rationalise to children. It's hard to explain why one person has died but why someone else with the same symptoms hasn’t.”
Meanwhile, teachers have taken to Twitter to express the need to adapt bereavement guidance in their schools.
@KHPHead said: “We’ve just drafted some guidelines. A bit dry but it might guide people through a difficult situation. Happy to share when we’ve finalised.”
We’ve just drafted some guidelines. A bit dry but it might guide people through a difficult situation. Happy to share when we’ve finalised.— Kents Hill Park Head (@KHPHead) March 31, 2020
@MrARobbins: “We have a proposed amended policy which looks at how we build capacity to support and facilitate grieving in a lockdown environment. Hopefully will be out by Friday.”
Yes just waiting on approval to share an outline. We have a proposed ammended policy which looks at how we build capacity to support and facilitate grieving in a lockdown environment. Hopefully will be out by Friday— Adam Robbins (@MrARobbins) March 31, 2020