Volume 2 | September 2020
Jeannette Richardson
WICT Greater Ohio
Back to School
As we start the 2020/2021 school year, a lot has changed. Unlike past years, this year we start the journey during a pandemic. Many parents, caregivers and guardians are facing new and difficult choices about how their child will return to school in the fall, such as deciding between in-person and virtual learning. This brings a new challenge and a lot needs to happen so that students can learn and thrive without raising the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Schools play an important role in students’ educational achievement, health and well-being. And now they are faced with the challenge of working with local health officials to help prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) while ensuring that students, teachers and staff have a safe and healthy environment.

As schools begin to reopen across the nation, parents, guardians, and caregivers will be making decisions based on numerous factors, such as individual preference, health concerns and work situations. When making decisions about school for our family, there are many things to think about beyond academics, such as access to school meal programs, social services, extended day childcare, extra-curricular activities, social-emotional support from peers and educators and transportation. 

This month’s newsletter provides information and learning resources on ways to help you manage through the challenges as we enter the new school year. Also, get to know your WICT GO Board Member Maria Toft, Chapter Ambassador.
Returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic may not feel like normal – at least for a while. Whatever form school takes, however, it will require everyone's support to make sure that it is healthy, safe and equitable for students, teachers, staff and families.​

All the best, 
Jeannette Richardson
2020 WICT Greater Ohio President
WICT Greater Ohio Chapter Board Member Openings
On behalf of the WICT Greater Ohio Chapter, we are issuing a call for nominations for the positions on our 2020 Board of Directors.

Roles and responsibilities for the open positions can be found on the WICT GO website link below:

Back to School During COVID-19 - Elementary to College Support Resources

As children begin to return to schools, parents are faced with the reality that this school year will be different. As a parent, you may have a variety of scenarios that you are faced with regarding educational instruction. Across the country schools have been forced to decide if students will return in-person, virtual, or a hybrid model of virtual and in-person instruction. There are some things that you can do to prepare yourself and your children for school in this new COVID-19 environment.

Discuss the expectations: Many schools have a return to school plan that will guide you through a smooth return to school. Discuss this plan with your children to ensure they understand the expectations required of them as well as you as their parents. Be sure to use child friendly terms when explaining the expectations to your child. 

Model the behavior: As a parent it is important that you model the behavior that you expect from your child. If the expectation is for the children to wear face coverings, wash their hands regularly, and maintain social distancing then as a parent you should model that behavior. Children will look to their parents as an example of what they should do while out in public and in school. 

Do your research: Review sites like the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Department of Education, American Academy of Pediatrics and your local board of education sites. These sites provide protocols and helpful tips for parents.

Be flexible: This pandemic is new territory. Remember to be flexible as things may change throughout the school year. You should have a plan in place in the event your child will need to be quarantined due to exposure or illness. If your child will be attending school in-person there is a good chance a required quarantine may happen during the school year. Due to the uncertainty of the pandemic, you also need to be flexible if your child’s school changes their plan mid-year to accommodate for the changing environment. You should keep the lines of communication open with the school and keep your child informed of any changes. This may be a difficult time for your child and making sure they are aware of what is going on using child friendly terms will be critical to helping them through the transition. 

Below are some resources that you may find helpful during the transition to back to school. 
Propensities of Success: College Edition
Terisha Lee Live Interview w/ Cedrice' Bennett and Anthony Harris
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CDC Safety Guidelines + Resources for Colleges, Universities and Higher Learning
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Mental Health Check for Parents
WICTGO recently spoke with Cincinnati-based therapist and owner of Limitless Counseling & Consulting Services, Reyna Smith, about students mental health as they return to school during COVID-19 and what parents can do to support them.

As you know many students are returning to a virtual model (like they experienced in the spring) for the 2020-21 school year, and some are returning fully back in the classroom but with a slew of restrictions due to COVID-19. Both models I imagine are creating a level of stress and anxiety for the students. What strategies can students practice to help support their mental health as they return to school with each of these models?

It will be important to develop routine for students. An appropriate sleep/wake routine will allow students to have the energy they need to focus throughout the school day. Definitely develop clear lines of communication and create a safe space to talk about feelings. It could be helpful to educate students on the signs of anxiety or depression (isolation, low energy, lack of motivation, sadness, irritability, tantrums, not enjoying previously enjoyable activities), and invite them to share when these signs are recognized to ensure they feel supported. Encourage children to continue connecting socially with peers, of course safely; virtual meet ups, trips to the park. Encourage physical activity like taking walks or exercise.
What should parents START, STOP AND CONTINUE doing to support and meet their children’s mental health needs through this upcoming school year?

Parents can start to validate feelings and help children in creating routine. Start asking children what they are struggling with or if they are needing support. Encourage breaks and advocating for their needs. Parents can work with students to connect with their teachers for further support on content they may be struggling with. Continue educating and talking to children about the changes and normalize feelings of frustration, sadness, etc. Work together as a team to come up with strategies that work best within the household (if virtual) to give each other space. Stop setting expectations! This is a difficult time for everyone, work towards utilizing affirming words and phrases, and reminding students that they are doing the best they can. Seek help of professional services when needed. Most schools contract with agencies to provide mental health support in schools. 

Reyna Smith, LPCC
Limitless Counseling & Consulting Services
Cincinnati, OH
Helping Children Transition from Elementary to Middle School

1.Visit the new school.
2.Meet with teachers.
3.Review clothing needs.
4.Get adjusted to mornings.

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Helpful Tips from Marie Hartwell-Walker, ED.D. Psychcentral.

Helping Children Who Fear School

1.Education-help them understand what's going on.
2.Learn self-soothing techniques
3.Develop a hierarchy of frightening events.
4.Confront each item using self-soothing techniques to settle down.

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Mental Health Tips for College Students.

1.Set your own safety and health boundaries.
2.Regain a sense of control with schedules.
3.Build rapport with students and teachers
4.Utilize mental health resources.
5.Detox from tv screens at the end of the day.
6.Be a safe social butterfly
7.Watch friends for signs of mental illness.
8.Accept that campus life is going to be different.

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Get to know your WICT GO Board Members

Maria Toft
Brand Ambassador
WICT Greater Ohio
Describe your role & what you love about it.
I’m a billing supervisor and have been for over 4 years. The job changes all the time so I never get bored. I love working with my agents and helping others realize the power within them. I love building agents up and watching them grow. 

How have other women inspired you or helped shape your career?

There are many women that inspire me in my journey some of them still work with the company. Jakima Greathouse saw potential in me early in my career as an agent and invested in me. I feel Zakiya’s support has also been influential in my career she doesn’t lead me to the answer but she offers pathways. I’m a reader and sci-fi enthusiast so many female authors have also played a huge part in the way I approach my job role. Carrie Fischer wrote over 6 books during her lifetime. I find her story so inspiring, how she overcame so many obstacles in her life. 

What is something that most people don’t know about you?

I’m a huge Star Wars fan. My daughter is even named after a character. 

Why do you think WICT is important?

It’s a place for women to connect from all paths in life. It helps to foster those bonds that otherwise probably wouldn't happen since honestly we all work at such a fast pace I don’t know we would take the time.

What do you hope to see the WICT GO chapter accomplish this year?

I think this year has already been incredibly strong even in the face of the year’s major events. I would like to see us continue to have a presence in our communities supporting under privileged individuals who may not have access to technology, means and information, especially when children educate virtually. I am so blessed to be among so many strong fearless women-together there’s nothing this group can’t accomplish. 
Poetry Break
WICT Online Learning Library and Free Online Learning Opportunities
During this uncertain time, many of us are facing new challenges such as working remotely or having to self-quarantine. Just like this Forbes article reminds us, while we cannot completely control what is happening during this pandemic, we can look for opportunities to engage our communities in positive ways. 

To help you with this effort, WICT’s Online Learning Library is open to members. Not a member? Join today and access this benefit and more!
There are many different ways you can continue to increase your knowledge and learning.

Family Support Tools for Distance Learning

EveryoneOn is offering digital skill training, internet services and computers for low-income families.

Information and Guidance

For information and guidance during this time please refer to information from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
WICT GO Mentorship Highlights
WICT Mentorship Program Summer Social
The Mentorship team, Mentors and Protégés participated in a after work social to relax and chit chat, including a bingo game with prizes and a Charcuterie Demonstration from Ann Oliver and Sous Chef assistant Stacy.
This was an amazing and fun event. Please view a few pictures of the fun.
Bookmark the link below for our most up to date information on WICT Global and WICT Greater Ohio news and events!
Save The Date
October 5th - 6th
"The Power of Resilience" 2020 WICT Leadership Conference