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Navigating Back to School in the Era of COVID-19 | NEWS-Line for Occupational Therapists & COTAs
 


Navigating Back to School in the Era of COVID-19


Source:

Returning to school is a complex event, even in a typical school year. With the COVID-19 pandemic and other social uncertainty, new challenges exist to maintain safety, comfort, and learning for students of all ages. To those navigating these uncertain times, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has produced a Back to School Guide and Back to School Tip Sheets to provide practical suggestions for parents, guardians, caregivers, administrators, teachers, occupational therapy practitioners, para-professionals, and students to promote safe engagement in school-based occupations.

“Whether in person, or virtual, the complexity of returning to school requires a holistic approach,” says Varleisha Gibbs, PhD, OTD, OTR/L, AOTA’s Vice President of Practice Engagement and Capacity Building, who has 18 years of experience working in school-based practice as an OT, agency owner, consultant, and occupational therapy educator. “Recommendations must focus on the unique needs of all persons involved—children, parents, and the education team. To expand this focus, occupational therapy practitioners provide an approach addressing the environmental, physical, emotional, and behavioral demands.”

AOTA’s Back to School Guide provides support in these various areas of essential needs, including:

Tips for Teachers: Helping Children and Adolescents Transition Back to School

Tips for Families: Helping Children and Adolescents Transition Back to School

Transitions Back to School or to Virtual Learning

Considerations for Creating a Classroom Partnership Pledge

Classroom Set-up Tips for Teachers to Promote Safety and Comfort

Selecting, Wearing, and Caring For Masks and Facial Coverings

Considerations for Modifying and for Preparing Students for Changes in Transportation Services

Identifying and Addressing Issues Related to Students’ Mental Health, Behavior and Well-being

Guidance on Addressing Discrimination and Stigma

Tips for Supporting Students with Autism

AOTA’s Guides and Tip Sheets are available individually by topic or as one large document at www.aota.org/backtoschool

“Disruption to familiar routines can cause worry and anxiety in any child or young adult, and the reality is that we need to rethink what social engagement looks like for students this year,” says Susan Cahill, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, AOTA Director of Evidence-Based Practice, who has been an occupational therapist for 23 years, working as a school therapist, special education administrator, and occupational therapy educator. “Wearing masks, sitting away from friends, and meeting up online isn’t what students are used to expecting. The AOTA Back to School Guide includes practical tips and resources to help families and educators adapt routines and create new ones so that kids feel safe and are available for learning.”

Note: This document also contains an overarching problem-solving model that can be used to address new questions as they arise. The Back to School Tip Sheets were developed using this problem-solving model. The information is intended to be used in conjunction with other direction and guidance provided by public health officials; local, state, and federal governments; and school officials, and is not intended to supplant such direction or guidance.

Founded in 1917, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) represents the professional interests and concerns of more than 213,000 occupational therapists, assistants, and students nationwide. Occupational therapy practitioners facilitate participation in everyday living for people of all ages. The Association educates the public and advances the profession of occupational therapy by providing resources, setting standards including accreditations, and serving as an advocate to improve health care. Based in North Bethesda, Md., AOTA’s major programs and activities are directed toward promoting the professional development of its members and assuring consumer access to quality services so patients can maximize their individual potential. For more information, visit www.aota.org.

Source: American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)






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