24 January 2022

What we know about the Omicron variant

People around the world are concerned about the Omicron variant of COVID-19. We’ve gathered the latest expert information about this new variant and will continue to update this article as more information becomes available. For more tips and information on COVID-19, see our  COVID-19 guide for parents . Last updated: 17 December 2021, What is the Omicron variant? , The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been called a variant of concern by WHO based on the evidence that it has several mutations that may have an impact on how it behaves. There is still substantial uncertainty regarding Omicron and a lot of research underway to evaluate its transmissibility, severity and reinfection risk.  , How did the Omicron variant develop? , When a virus is circulating widely and causing numerous infections, the likelihood of the virus mutating increases. The more opportunities a virus has to spread, the more opportunities it has to undergo changes. New variants like Omicron are a reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. It is therefore essential that people get the…, Where is the Omicron variant present? , The Omicron variant has now been detected in many countries around the world. WHO reports that Omicron is probably in most countries, even if it hasn’t been detected yet.  , Is the Omicron variant more severe than other COVID-19 variants? , Early findings suggest that Omicron might be less severe than the Delta variant, but more data is needed and WHO warns that it should not be dismissed as “mild”. Studies are ongoing and this information will be updated as it becomes available.  It is important to remember that all variants of COVID-19 can cause severe disease or death, including…, Is the Omicron variant more contagious? , Omicron is spreading more quickly than other variants. Based on the information available, WHO believes it is likely that Omicron will outpace the Delta variant where there is COVID-19 transmission in the community.  However, being vaccinated and taking precautions such as avoiding crowded spaces, keeping your distance from others and wearing a…, Does the Omicron variant cause different symptoms?  , There is no information to suggest that Omicron causes different COVID-19 symptoms from other COVID-19 variants.  , Are the COVID-19 vaccines effective against the Omicron variant?  , Researchers are looking into any potential impact the Omicron variant has on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. Information is still limited, but there may be a small reduction in the effectiveness of vaccines against severe illness and death, and a decline in preventing mild disease and infection. However, WHO reports that so far it looks…, Is a prior COVID-19 infection effective against the Omicron variant?, WHO reports that early evidence suggests that previous infection could offer less protection against Omicron in comparison to other variants of concern, such as Delta. Information is still limited though and we will share updates as it becomes available. You should get vaccinated even if you’ve previously had COVID-19. While people who recover…, Do current COVID-19 tests detect the Omicron variant? , The widely used PCR and antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests continue to detect infection of COVID-19, including Omicron.  , Are children more likely to contract the Omicron variant? , Research is ongoing into Omicron’s transmissibility and we will update as more information becomes available. However, people who are mixing socially and those who are unvaccinated are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19.  , How can I protect myself and my family against the Omicron variant?, The most important thing you can do is reduce your risk of exposure to the virus. To protect yourself and your loved ones, make sure to:  Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth. Make sure that your hands are clean when you put on and remove your mask. Keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others.  Avoid poorly ventilated or…, How can I talk to my child about the Omicron and other COVID-19 variants?, News about COVID-19 and now the Omicron variant is flooding our daily lives and it is only natural that curious young children will have questions – lots of them. Here are some pointers to keep in mind tips for helping to explain what can be a complicated topic in simple and reassuring terms.  Children have a right to know what is going on, but it…
29 September 2021

Ten mental health and well-being tips for teachers

As schools reopen, it is important to prioritise and commit to taking care of your mental health and well-being – this helps you to have more positive energy for yourself, your students and their families. Here are 10 tips on how you can do it!, Set aside time to unwind, Think about what helps lift your mood and gets you through stress – whether it is playing with your children, going for a walk, talking to your friends, taking care of your plants,  reading a book or cooking a new recipe. Keep some space to relax. These activities are as important as your working hours. It’s about allowing yourself to feel…, Plan ahead, As schools reopen, there could be a million things on your mind on how to engage with students and help them with the transition. Make a list of all your tasks and activities for the day or week early on. Use a day planner or notebook to plan your week. Set small goals and take appropriate breaks. It will help you plan your time better and…, Set boundaries, The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in increased stress levels in the lives of many teachers with a new way of teaching, personal health and family issues. Whether you are teaching online or in the classroom, you are continually taking care of students’ needs throughout the day. Make sure to set boundaries to have ‘me’ time, be with family, or…, Get vaccinated, Get vaccinated when it’s your turn. Getting vaccinated will protect you from severe COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and death and can alleviate the safety concerns of being back in schools. It will also protect your family, your students and their families. You will be required to keep taking precautions after vaccination, but feeling safer…, Adjust your expectations, This is a period of adjustment for everyone and keep things in perspective. You can only control certain things and circumstances during the transition period in your classroom. Don’t pressurise yourself to provide the same learning experiences as the pre-lockdown period. You are one single professional and doing your best to adapt to change. As…, Acquire new skills and appreciate the ones you already have, Teachers, across the globe, were largely unprepared to support the continuity of learning mostly because of limited digital skills. Acquiring and mastering new skills will help you in the professional journey and will provide greater confidence and comfort in work. You can sign up for online courses, virtual workshops, webinars, or watch videos to…, Be kind to yourself, If you are feeling overwhelmed, share your feelings with another teacher, friend or family member. Having a conversation with your supervisor or senior school leader will help them understand you and offer support. Remember, a healthy relationship will have a positive influence on the children you are teaching., Stay socially connected, You can keep yourself physically apart to limit the spread of the virus, but it is important that you stay emotionally and socially connected with your friends, family and colleagues. Celebrate happy occasions over video calls, engage in virtual working groups or join online book clubs. When seeing others, prefer outdoor activities, and use masks…, Get your body moving, Physical activity is proven to be a powerful fighter to navigate stress and anxiety. With regular exercise, you can feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories and feel more relaxed and positive about yourself. Even a short 10 minutes brisk walking boosts our mood and can give an enormous sense of well-…, Seek mental health support if needed, Take care of your mental health and well-being and seek mental health support if you have signs of depression, anxiety, and burnout. Feeling tired and unhappy is not the same as being depressed. The major signs of depression, anxiety, burnout, and other mental health problems that need specialised mental health attention include fatigue and sleep…