COVID-19 Updates from RCS

Managing Fears and Anxiety Around Coronavirus (03-24-2020)

Rockingham County Schools

Please visit our website and click on the Coronavirus Icon for more information! Rockingham County Schools in North Carolina is a rural public school district with our main office in Eden, North Carolina at 511 Harrington Highway, Eden, NC 27288.

Governor Cooper Announced School Closure in North Carolina Through May 15, 2020.

Breaking News: Governor Cooper just announced schools will remained closed through May 15. More information to come from RCS! This extension of school closing may provoke questions and anxiety for students. This newsletter is dedicated to helping address some of those needs!

Rockingham County Schools is working on what this means for all of our students and please make sure to stay updated with information at Thank you!

Should I be feeling anxious about the coronavirus?

By now, everyone has heard of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a virus that causes cough, fever, and shortness of breath. It was first discovered in China in late 2019 and is now considered a public health emergency and a pandemic. As the situation evolves, many people are experiencing emotions ranging from mild anxiety to serious panic. If you’re feeling anxiety around COVID-19, here are some tips for how to cope with it.

Feeling anxious during a disease outbreak like the coronavirus is normal. In fact, having some anxiety can motivate you to maintain good hygiene habits, like washing your hands more frequently and minimizing contact with other people. Severe anxiety, on the other hand, can be debilitating. You may have too much anxiety about the coronavirus if you:

  • Are preoccupied with thoughts of it for most of the day

  • Are unable to concentrate on other things

  • Have difficulty sleeping and/or eating

If the stress from the coronavirus is worsening a physical or mental health condition or causing you to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, then it is also a problem.

Big picture

COVID-19 May Cause Significant Stress for Many: RCS Shares Information and Resources

Stress and Coping

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in. People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:

  • Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19

  • Children and teens

  • People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and other health care providers, or first responders

  • People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use

Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones

  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns

  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating

  • Worsening of chronic health problems

  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website.

Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.

Things you can do to support yourself:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.

  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.

  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.

  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

  • Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.

Reduce stress in yourself and others

  • Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful.

  • When you share accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them.

  • Learn more about taking care of your emotional health.

Big picture

What are some tips for dealing with anxiety about the coronovirus?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or panicked about the coronavirus, you can take steps to help keep your anxiety controlled.

  • Keep your news consumption to two to three credible sources for 30 minutes or less per day: Too much news consumption can make your anxiety worse. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the media coverage of COVID-19, then make an effort to keep it to a minimum. If you notice that you’re anxious at night, avoid the news a few hours before bed.

  • Challenge your irrational thoughts and replace them with facts: Irrational thoughts and beliefs are untrue or exaggerated thoughts about a situation. In contrast, rational thoughts are accurate and based on facts. An example of a rational thought would be: “There is a risk that I could catch the virus. But if I take the recommended precautions, then I will significantly decrease my risk.” Irrational thoughts foster anxiety, while rational thoughts help you view a situation more accurately and calmly.

  • Practice at least 5 minutes of relaxation each day: Counteract your stress with time spent in relaxation. For some people this may mean taking a hot bath, reading a book, or meditating. If you’re unsure what to do, you can try deep breathing, which stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and helps induce calm. Start by setting a timer for 5 minutes and sitting in a comfortable space. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold it briefly, and then exhale through your nose for 6 seconds. Continue this practice for the remainder of the time.

  • Stay in contact with your support system through phone, internet, and social media: This is very important. Humans are social creatures, and if you have to limit contact with loved ones, it can lead to feelings of isolation and depression. Whether you’re quarantined, social distancing, or just being careful, maintain contact with friends and family in whatever way you can.

  • If you’re unable to cope with your anxiety on your own, seek professional help: If you’re concerned about seeing a provider in person, you may be able to meet with a mental health professional through phone or video chat (telehealth). The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act is a new law that allows healthcare providers to bill Medicare for services that are carried out through telehealth. You can call your health insurance company, speak with your physician, or conduct an online search for local mental health professionals.

Big picture

Parent Support for Children Who May Be Dealing with Anxiety

For Parents:

Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.

Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include:

  • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children

  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)

  • Excessive worry or sadness

  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits

  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens

  • Poor school performance or avoiding school

  • Difficulty with attention and concentration

  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past

  • Unexplained headaches or body pain

  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

There are many things you can do to support your child:

  • Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.

  • Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.

  • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.

  • Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.

  • Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.

  • Learn more about helping children cope.

Big picture

Managing Fear and Anxiety Continued...

For Responders:

Responding to COVID-19 can take an emotional toll on you. There are things you can do to reduce secondary traumatic stress (STS) reactions:

  • Acknowledge that STS can impact anyone helping families after a traumatic event.

  • Learn the symptoms including physical (fatigue, illness) and mental (fear, withdrawal, guilt).

  • Allow time for you and your family to recover from responding to the pandemic.

  • Create a menu of personal self-care activities that you enjoy, such as spending time with friends and family, exercising, or reading a book.

  • Take a break from media coverage of COVID-19.

  • Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or concerned that COVID-19 is affecting your ability to care for your family and patients as you did before the outbreak.

  • Learn more tips for taking care of yourself during emergency response.

For people who have been released from quarantine:

Being separated from others if a healthcare provider thinks you may have been exposed to COVID-19 can be stressful, even if you do not get sick. Everyone feels differently after coming out of quarantine. Some feelings include :

  • Mixed emotions, including relief after quarantine

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones

  • Stress from the experience of monitoring yourself or being monitored by others for signs and symptoms of COVID-19

  • Sadness, anger, or frustration because friends or loved ones have unfounded fears of contracting the disease from contact with you, even though you have been determined not to be contagious

  • Guilt about not being able to perform normal work or parenting duties during quarantine

  • Other emotional or mental health changes

Children may also feel upset or have other strong emotions if they, or someone they know, has been released from quarantine. You can help your child cope.

Big picture

How can I help children cope with anxiety about the coronavirus?

Children and teens may also feel anxious about COVID-19, especially if they receive false information or mixed messages. The best way to help your child understand the coronavirus depends upon their age and maturity level. But in general, consider the following tips:

  • Stay calm when talking about the virus in front of your children: Remember that you are a model for your child. If they see you panicking, then their anxiety will go up, too. Make an effort to remain calm when speaking about the coronavirus to them or when they might overhear.

  • Stick to the facts, keep it brief, and allow them to ask questions: School-aged children are most likely going to hear about COVID-19 from peers or other adults, so not discussing it can be confusing. However, sharing a large amount of information could be overwhelming. So you want to strike a balance between being open and honest without sharing too much. When talking to children, explain the basic facts without going into details and give them a chance to talk about how they feel and ask questions.

  • Explain steps that they can take to reduce their risk: Giving your child things to do that can help them prevent the virus can increase their sense of control over the situation. Discuss how properly washing their hands and eating and sleeping well can help keep them healthy.

  • Limit your child’s news exposure: The exact limits will depend upon their age. Young children should not have access to news at all and should only hear about the virus from you. Older children may want to read or watch the news to feel more in control and aware. Allow them some exposure, but keep it limited to once a day. Remember that your children are observing your habits, so stick to the limits that you set for yourself as well.

  • Encourage children to have fun in different ways: If your child loves to spend time with other kids, you may wonder how you can allow them to still have fun while limiting their contact with other people. Consider creative ways to have fun, like family game or movie nights, making a fort at home, or giving them a cooking lesson.

COVID-19 Thoughts

COVID-19 is a complex condition that is not yet fully understood. What we do know is that it can cause symptoms that range from mild to severe, and in some cases can lead to death. You can reduce the likelihood of developing the virus by washing your hands often and avoiding anyone who is ill. Be prepared and take action to prevent the coronavirus, but avoid panicking about the situation. If you find yourself experiencing significant worry that interferes with your ability to eat, sleep, work, or keep up with your responsibilities, then take action to reduce your anxiety.

Big picture

Where can I get more information and resources?

There is a lot of information being reported on the coronavirus from a variety of sources. Some media outlets are using scientific and medical sources, but others are relying on personal opinions. Receiving false or exaggerated information may increase your anxiety.

It is important to get information from credible sources that are relying on the latest research. Consider seeking your information from places like the:

For more information on how to help you and your family cope with coronavirus anxiety, see tips from the following places:

If you’re having a hard time dealing with your anxiety, you can also reach out to SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline. You can reach a trained counselor by calling 1-800-985-5990 or texting “TalkWithUs” to 66746. The helpline is available 24/7 and provides confidential crisis counseling.

If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255. The lifeline offers free and confidential support. It is available 24/7 and provides services to anyone who speaks Spanish or is deaf or hard of hearing.

RCS Information and Resouces

Big picture

RCS Behavioral Health HelpLine!

We provided social and emotional support and behavioral health/mental health supports for our students with our Behavioral Health Hotline!

Call our RCS Behavior Health Helpline at 336-627-2615!!!
  • If your child needs mental health support or consultation, you may call the Behavioral Health Hotline for support between the hours of 1:00-3:00 p.m. beginning March 18, 2020 through April 3, 2020.
  • You may call Behavior Health Helpline 336-627-2615 and someone from the RCS Behavioral Health Department will answer between the hours of 1:00-3:00 p.m. beginning March 18, 2020 through April 3, 2020. If you have an emergency, you must call 9-1-1. This is for non-emergency support for mental health.
  • Day Treatment Services: If you have an emergency, please call 9-1-1. If you need additional support, you may call:
  • Day Treatment Crisis Number: 336-520-0903
  • Youth Haven Services Crisis Number: 336-344-2367
  • For more counseling resources, please click here for additional resources and emergency numbers.

Rockingham County Schools Child Nutrition Services

  • RCS food service program will be offered for breakfast and lunch for kids ages 18 and under.
  • Beginning Monday, March 16th food service will be offered at the following school sites: Leaksville-Spray Elementary, Moss Street Elementary, and McMichael High.
  • The hours for breakfast are 7:30-8:30 a.m. and lunch is from 11:30-1:00 p.m.
  • Meals will be distributed as “grab and go” in order to stay in line with our social distancing recommendations per the Executive Order of the Governor.
  • The Need Food Line is 336-627-2723 or email . Services are available now.
  • Parents may buy a meal for a low cost of $3.75.

RCS General Information Line!

In addition to the website and Alert Now, there is an established RCS Hot Line:

  • District Information Hotline 336-627-2789.
  • This number will have a pre-recorded messages for updates and information that can be called for 24/7 for information as long as school is closed.

RCS Behavioral Health Department

In the RCS Behavioral Health Department, we inspire hope and make a difference. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.