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Collin Breaux, Dana Point Times 

As anxiety mounts and COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Dr. Kayla Ramsey spoke with families about the best ways they can stay safe and level-headed.

Ramsey—who works at the Hoag Medical Group location in San Clemente—shared health advice with Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) families during a virtual town hall hosted by the district on Tuesday, Dec. 15.

The pandemic has affected kids’ mental health because they’ve been forced to change their routines and have had to miss significant life events including typical ceremonies, Ramsey said.

“They’ve had breaks in the continuity of health care,” Ramsey said. “A lot of these kids have been missing their immunizations. They haven’t been able to have access to a lot of mental health and occupational health services.”

Kids don’t always have the words to express their worries, Ramsey said. Symptoms to watch out for include increased irritability, trouble sleeping, losing interest in activities they previously enjoyed, and changes in eating habits.

Virtual learning has also presented a new world for students and families. Keeping a daily schedule is important, Ramsey said. That includes setting a time to wake up, get dressed, and have breakfast.

“Having enough breaks (is recommended)—young kids may not be able to focus with virtual learning as easily as, maybe, the older kids,” Ramsey said. “Allowing 20 minutes of class, followed by 10 minutes of physical activity and a little bit of a break (is beneficial). Older kids may be able to focus a bit longer.”

Even with the increase in virtual learning and time spent on electronic devices, Ramsey recommended not getting completely absorbed by technology.

“Limits are so important,” Ramsey said. “As always, technology should be used constructively. You shouldn’t push out sleep, family time.”

Ramsey recommended hand-washing, as have most health experts throughout the pandemic.

Ramsey also mentioned the incoming vaccine, which will initially be distributed to frontline health care workers and high-risk individuals, with availability to the general public coming later.

“A lot of places are expected to get this vaccine pretty soon,” Ramsey said. “I know some counties are already distributing it.”

Mass vaccination is expected to be available in the spring.

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