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Dear school administrators and classroom teachers:

In these incredibly trying times, please consider these easy yet easily overlooked tips for creating COVID isolation rooms in your building(s). The hope is that they are seldom, if ever, used, however we recognize that while they are a requirement, they are also an opportunity to further demonstrate your care and concern for your staff and students.  

We stand ready to support you throughout the coming weeks and beyond. 

Thank you for all that you do.

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  • Writer's pictureRebekah Magin

Trauma science lesson of the day: Universal precautions = Act as if. Do no harm.

In trauma-informed care, we often use parallels to healthcare when teaching folks about the theory and science of trauma and stress, while also teaching folks the most effective and efficient treatments and interventions for trauma and stress.

I tell the story of Louis Pasteur and germ theory and how crazy it seemed at the time to believe that it was invisible things and stuff (microscopic germs) that was making us sick, that you cannot always tell who is sick by looking at them, and that proactive measures are the best way to prevent illness.

This was madness!

And here you can start to see the parallels to trauma theory and science. We are understanding more and more that it is, in fact, the invisible stuff (i.e., our traumatic and chronically stressful experiences, thoughts, and feelings) that are making us sick, that you cannot always tell who has trauma by looking at them, and that proactive measures are the best way to prevent (and heal) trauma.

We talk about universal precautions in trauma-informed care too; practices like emotional management, recognizing the losses that come with every change and challenge, giving opportunities for learning and questioning, and focusing on goals and future.

We do these things no matter what. Whether I have trauma or not, whether you have trauma or not, whether we know anyone's trauma history or not. Because, like germs, we know that trauma and stress are universal. So we ACT AS IF AND DO NO HARM.

And today, we have come full circle. Germ theory has come back around to our urgent awareness. And yet the truth is still that proactive measures are the best way to prevent illness.

In healthcare, and generally agreed upon good hygiene, we practice universal precautions. Any kindergartner can tell you what these consist of (and Kindergarten teachers can recite them in their sleep!): cover your cough and sneeze, wash your hands before eating and after using the potty, and wear gloves when you treat someone's boo-boo. We do these things whether we are sick or not, or whether the other person is sick or not. We ACT AS IF AND DO NO HARM. No one is offended. No one is inconvenienced by the extra few seconds it takes.

And today, we are being asked to ACT AS IF AND DO NO HARM! Social distancing is now a universal precaution. Staying home whenever possible is a universal precaution.

You don't know if you have COVID-19 (or maybe you do in which case you better be at home taking good care of yourself!). You don't know if I, or anyone else you see, has COVID-19. The idea here is you don't have to know. ACT AS IF AND DO NO HARM. Proactive measures are still the best way to prevent (and heal) illness.

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  • Writer's pictureRebekah Magin

Trauma science lesson of the day: We did not go from 0 to 100 in a matter of days.

I often hear the phrase "He/she seems to go from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds for no reason." My first response is always "He/she was not at 0. This person probably hasn't seen 0 in years, if ever, not even when asleep". Truth is, they were probably revving, surviving at about a 90.

This applies to groups of people too. In fact, trauma science tells us that whatever symptoms, behaviors, thoughts, and feelings we associate with an individual in trauma can and should be applied to groups of individuals in trauma as well. That includes us as a state, a nation, and a global community.

We were not at zero before COVID-19. Not even close. But we are so accustomed to our chronic state of hyper-arousal, hyper-stimulation, judgment, fear, busy-ness, and survival mode that it felt normal, like zero, our baseline.

But we were probably closer to about 60-90, depending on your individual circumstances and constitution. Revving way up high but just below the threshold to blend in, survive, execute your day without drawing attention.

And then a global pandemic entered the scene. A GLOBAL PANDEMIC!

For individuals, or a large group of individuals, say 330M (approx US population), revving at a baseline between 60-90, it's easy to see how we very quickly got to 100+. And our hyper-arousal, hyper-stimulation, judgment, fear and busy-ness runneth over.

This will pass. Nature will see to it. We will either help or hinder. But afterwards, it will take time to get back to baseline.

And perhaps, we will learn to rev a little lower, not zero per se, but maybe 30-40. Eat slower. Take a walk. Express gratitude. Be slower to judge each other and ourselves. BREATHE. So that when the next crisis comes (and we know it will), we will weather it better, smarter, calmer, safer.

This is learning. This is growth. And it is the antidote to trauma.

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