Cleaning and Disinfecting: An important part of reopening and keeping schools open

COVID-19 procedures include strict adherence to cleaning and disinfecting our schools, classrooms and staff areas. psi would like to make you aware of an environmentally friendly and cost-effective option for your disinfecting and sanitizing needs.

It features a three-pronged approach called The Power of Three. It is a trademarked, disinfecting concept created by the DriveMind Group that integrates the following three solutions: Tersano Technology to create Stabilized Aqueous Ozone (SAO), MyShield Hospital Grade Disinfectant WITH an Antimicrobial Surface Sealant, and an Electrostatic Sprayer to apply both solutions.

The products are environmentally friendly, with no chemicals. DriveMind offers sales of the products direct to your school, or you can opt for their disinfecting and sanitizing services.

Click here for more information.

New! Pain Management Course Now Available

A new Pain Management course is now available for high school and middle school students. psi would like to extend a special thank you to University Hospitals’ Connor Integrated Medicine, Kent State University, IMG Academies and Banyan Treatment Centers for their partnership in the creation of this course. Specific thanks to Dr. Jeanne Lackamp, Dr. David Miller, Robert Ettinger, Dr. Anne Stormorken, Luke Wollet, James Tunney, Tom Sitko and Mitch Peterson.

This new interactive course is broken down into five modules presented in four or six weeks, and covers types of pain, causes and treatment of pain, addiction and coping skills. It is endorsed by University Hospitals and psi and storied by Luke Wollet. We are looking for new schools to pilot this program for the remainder of the school year.

If interested, please contact Mike Tornow, psi Director of Marketing and Development at (330) 425-8474, ext 200.

Click here to email.

     

The Ohio School Safety Center

psi On August 21, 2019, Governor Mike DeWine signed Executive Order 2019-21D creating the Ohio School Safety Center within Ohio Homeland Security. The center is responsible for assisting local schools and law enforcement with preventing, preparing for, and responding to threats and acts of violence, including self-harm, through a holistic, solutions-based approach to improving school safety. The mission of the center is to provide guidance to Ohio schools in order to enhance their strategies for safety, security, and emergency plan development in accordance with the School Climate Guidelines, School Safety/Emergency Operations Plan Template and Ohio Law.

Click here to visit the OSSC website.

New K-12 School Safety Requirements from HB-123

House Bill 123 passed the 133rd Ohio General Assembly and was signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine on December 21, 2020. If your school is in need of meeting the new school safety requirements in these areas, psi can help get your school in compliance. A few of the bill’s impacts are highlighted below:

  • Requires all schools and districts to provide annual training covering suicide awareness and prevention, safety training and violence prevention, and social inclusion for grades 6-12.
  • Requires every 6-12 grade school building to create a threat assessment team within two years of the effective date.
  • Transfers school emergency management responsibilities from the Ohio Department of Education to the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
  • Requires schools and districts to adopt an anonymous reporting program of their choosing beginning with the first full school year following the date the bill passes (2021-2022 school year). Schools can enroll in the Ohio School Safety Center’s free Safer Ohio School Tip Line or sign up with a third party service that shares data with the state.

Click here for additional requirements and full analysis of HB 123.

Youth Mental Health First Aid program offered by psi

psi, under the direction of Training and Education Manager Dr. Julian Dooley, is pleased to be actively training educators across the state as part of the national Youth Mental Health First Aid program. The program—designed for teachers, school staff, coaches and other adults who regularly interact with adolescents aged 12-18 years—introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems experienced by adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and teaches individuals how to assist and support an adolescent in a mental health crisis or non-crisis situation. This is an outstanding evidence-based program that is even more valuable now during such trying times in our world. Talk to psi about bringing this program to your school.

Click here for more information on the program.

Click here to contact Dr. Dooley, psi Training and Education Manager.

psi named Regional Affiliate of Ohio’s GEER Grant; will work to implement the Ohio School Wellness Initiative

As part of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) grant, psi has been named as a regional affiliate to work with 11 counties to develop and implement the Ohio School Wellness Initiative: Enhancing the Full Continuum of Care (Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Services) for Ohio’s K-12 Schools. In partnership with Miami University, the Ohio Schools Wellness Initiative was designed to explore, implement, and sustain a full continuum of care including prevention, early intervention, and treatment practices for K-12 students within local districts who adopt student assistance programs, Tier II/III supports, and staff wellness frameworks.

The cornerstone of this initiative is the development of a model SAP that can serve as a best practice standard for Ohio’s K-12 schools. Throughout this initiative, integrative approaches will be identified to strengthen Tier II supports (i.e. social skills, self-management, and academic supports) and Tier III supports (intensive, individualized supports such as functional behavioral assessments and wraparound services) within the Ohio Model SAP for students experiencing substance use, mental health, and behavioral health concerns. In alignment with the Ohio Whole Child Framework, a Staff Wellness Framework will be developed to promote wellness among school administrators and staff. Crucial to the success of this project is the collaborative partnership with education and mental health professionals throughout the state to establish regional networks of support for school districts as they implement and sustain these three components.

Click here for more information on the GEER grant.

Click here to contact Mike Tornow,psi Director of Marketing & Development.

Looking Ahead: Goodbye 2020!

by Steve Rosenberg, psi President and CEO

Now that 2020 is in our rearview mirror, we are all hopefully well into the new year focused on brighter times ahead filled with good health and new opportunities.

Needless to say, the pandemic plunged us into very challenging and disconcerting circumstances. On behalf of all of us at psi, I would like to thank you for your dedication and flexibility to meet the pandemic head on, never wavering in your commitment to provide the very best for the students and families you serve. We are proud to have been on the journey with you, supporting you in these seemingly Herculean efforts to meet the educational and health needs of your students.

As we continue to work diligently to complete this school year and begin planning for 2021-2022, I want to assure you that psi has the same sense of purpose and conviction to approach the months ahead and assist you in whatever successes and challenges the future may hold. Thank you in advance for your continued support and commitment to your students, families and communities.

Have a great 2021!

How To Make Your Workspace More Ergonomic

by Christine Worthington, Virtualpsi Coordinator

I’m sure we are all feeling the effects of the significant changes in our schedules from “on-the-go” teaching and in-person interaction with our students in the building to “sit-and-click” instruction at our home computers. Inevitably, these changes can impact all areas of our bodies as we get used to the “new normal” of online instruction. However, there are ways to create a positive experience, both physically and emotionally, into your work-from-home schedule. Luckily for us at psi, we have exceptional occupational therapists on staff who can assist us with transforming our home workstation to a more comfortable, ergonomic design. Melissa Mortensen, OT and I worked together to offer some easy, cost-effective suggestions for your home office transformation. To begin with, consider all areas of your work environment – keyboard and mouse pad, chair, desk, lighting, temperature, background and surrounding stimuli, as well as healthy considerations like diet, exercise, and relaxation.

When I began my journey as the Virtualpsi coordinator, I quickly began to experience wrist and elbow pain, as well as shoulder and neck strain. My eyes were also very strained as a result of working on the computer all day and from consistent exposure to the blue light from the computer screen. Making some minor changes to my desk positioning, chair height, choice of eyeglasses, and taking time to move and stretch my body significantly improved how I felt at the end of the work day. Making changes that best fit your specific needs are essential.

Wrist and hand support – The first area to consider is hand and wrist support. Reducing or eliminating any gaps or spacing between your hands and wrists and the keyboard and desk is a simple adjustment that could have positive lasting effects on reducing arm, elbow and/or shoulder and neck discomfort. Look for keyboards and mousepads that offer foam supports to help eliminate those gaps.

Good posture starts with a good chair – A good office-style chair is essential to help with good posture. Find a chair that offers height adjustments so you can position your body in correct alignment with the desk height. Placing your feet flat on the floor will also encourage proper posture. A kneeling chair or core ball, which both encourage forward positioning of the hips, could be a good choice for you. A thoracic back brace could also assist you with proper posturing while sitting if you tend to hunch over when typing. Do some investigating and find out what works for your body and your workspace.

Should I get a standing desk? Standing desks are definitely trending these days, but it is the height of the desk that will impact your posture the most. If you have a static desk where the height cannot be altered, having an adjustable chair could provide you the necessary relief. If you like the option to stand and sit at your desk, research adjustable desk converters that can allow you to change desk height at your convenience. These converters seem to offer the most versatility.

Why are my eyes so tired at the end of the day? If you are like me, my eyes get very fatigued after a day in front of the computer screen. The lighting in your work area could also affect how your eyes adjust to the light coming from the computer. Wearing protective glasses could really relieve the uncomfortable eye strain associated with the blue light emitted by the computer monitor, as well as the surrounding light from windows, lamps, and overhead lights in an office. Even if you don’t wear glasses, investing in a pair of blue-light filtering eyeglasses could significantly reduce the fatigue felt from the computer screen. There are so many low-cost style options and strength levels available on Amazon. You will probably notice the difference as soon as you start wearing them!

Don’t forget about your surroundings The temperature of your work area, as well as extraneous stimuli, could impact your stress and fatigue levels while working online. For the most effective work environment, consider making changes to the following areas if these items are bothersome or interfere in your work:

  • too high/too low temperatures
  • noise makers like fans, clocks, appliances, ringing phones
  • curious pets or family members
  • eating meals at your desk

Creating a quiet, comfortable, dedicated workspace to complete your online sessions lends itself to positive outcomes and a more stress-free experience.

Lifestyle changes Ergonomic changes to our work environment help our bodies adapt to working in front of a computer for extended periods of time. However, what can you do to help your body be more resilient to the effects of the work you are doing? Staying hydrated and eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods, and putting aside time to move your body between sessions will help clear your head and make you feel more productive throughout the day. Even just a brisk, 15-minute walk in the middle of the day could provide the stress reduction you need. Enjoy the fresh air and sunlight! Don’t forget to get appropriate rest each night and be kind to yourself.😊

Check out these websites for further ideas and suggestions for healthy lifestyle reminders and for tips to easily transform your office area into an ergonomic, stress-free workspace.

Creating the Perfect Ergonomic Workspace

Desk Mounted Sit-Stand Workstations

Blue Light Filtering Eyeglasses on Amazon

Making Health and Nutrition a Priority During COVID-19

COVID-19 Vaccine Education from Dr. Carly Wilbur, UH Pediatrician and psi Medical Director

The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines stirs up mixed feelings. Many doctors and scientists are hailing this a new chapter in the fight toward ending the pandemic. However, there are others who are distrustful of these measures and are inclined to mistrust science and the government. This article will provide a brief tutorial of COVID-vaccine terminology and help debunk some of the more dangerous myths surrounding the vaccine’s rollout. The goal is to make the reader a more educated consumer.


First, we will define some of the terms surrounding the introduction of these products. Then we will address some of the most common misconceptions surrounding COVID-19 vaccines.

Below are definitions of some of the terms surrounding the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccines:

OPERATION WARP SPEED refers to the effort to fast-track the development of COVID-19 vaccines. While it typically takes years to advance an idea into a marketable product that clears the FDA’s rigorous safety benchmarks, the path for the development of these vaccines was accelerated in order to save lives. The shortened timespan was a result of mass production of vaccines even while final stages of clinical trials were being conducted, rather than proceeding step-wise and waiting for completion of all trial stages. These vaccines came to market faster than normal not because clinical safety was compromised, but because steps that normally occur in series (i.e. first: complete the clinical trials, second: manufacture large quantities of the vaccine) happened simultaneously. The initial reports were so encouraging that vaccine production was bankrolled on a mass scale so that as soon as the completed trials were deemed successful, vials could be shipped out to waiting recipients.

EMERGENCY USE AUTHORIZATION (EUA) is a mechanism that is employed to help facilitate the rollout of health-related products (like medical countermeasures including vaccines) before they are FDA-approved as long as certain criteria are met. These include the existence of a public health emergency and the absence of any available alternatives. Additionally, the product must satisfy minimum safety and efficacy standards.

MESSENGER RNA (mRNA) is responsible for delivering instructions to protein-building parts of a cell regarding what proteins to manufacture. This process is called transcription, and can be manipulated depending on what the mRNA is programmed to instruct. DNA uses genetic code, a series of nucleotides in a particular order, that is carried by mRNA to translate genetic instructions for protein production. This essentially serves as the recipe for creating a given protein. When used in a vaccine, the mRNA delivers this genetic code directly to the cell. We’ve all seen illustrations of what the Coronavirus germ looks like under the microscope, with its crown-like collection of spikes projecting from the surface of the cell. The COVID-19 mRNA vaccine instructs the recipient’s body to manufacture this spike protein, which then prompts the immune system to create a corresponding antibody against the spike. The process offers all of the benefits of homegrown immunity without the risks of actually getting a COVID-19 infection. While the use of mRNA in vaccines is relatively new, the technology behind it has been studied for years. BioNTech and other laboratories have been exploring its use to fight HIV/AIDS, seasonal Influenza, Zika virus, Rabies, CMV, and even cancer (by way of triggering specific immune cells). Once the genetic code for the COVID-19 virus was published in February of 2020, the next logical step was to employ mRNA technology to fight COVID. Other vaccines, like the Flu vaccine, utilize a different mechanism to prime the immune system, often employing a weakened version of the microbe to prompt an antibody response. These vaccines use fertilized chicken eggs to incubate the virus, and once mature, it is chemically rendered non-infectious and delivered to the body in vaccine form. This inactivated version of the germ stimulates the body to generate an antibody response. One major benefit of mRNA-based vaccines is that their production time is faster than the necessary wait time involved in germinating a microbe in an egg vessel.

PFIZER-BIONTECH and MODERNA: These two companies joined forces to make newer mRNA technology available to the masses. BioNTech, a German laboratory, and Pfizer, a US-based business, received most of their funding for COVID-19 vaccine development from the German government. Their vaccines are mRNA-based and are approved for use in patients at least 16 years of age (for Pfizer’s, and 18 years of age for Moderna’s). These vaccines are injected into the muscle in two doses, administered three weeks (for Pfizer-BioNTech) or four weeks (for Moderna) apart. Their safety in younger children and pregnant women is presumed but has not yet been demonstrated formally. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) endorse this vaccine’s safety in mothers who are breastfeeding.


Next, let’s address some of the most common misconceptions surrounding COVID-19 vaccines:

MYTH FACT
COVID vaccines were rushed into production with untested technology The mRNA technology behind the two earliest approved vaccines is not new, but the application is novel. Moderna’s mRNA vaccine trials involved at least 30,000 participants and Pfizer’s included 43,000 participants just for the third phase of study. The integrity of the scientific process was not compromised, and safety and efficacy were prioritized.
COVID vaccines can give you a COVID infection Because the mRNA only codes for a protein on the outside of the COVID-19 cell surface and includes no actual virusmaterial, its introduction to the body cannot cause COVID.
mRNA vaccines can change your DNA or genetic makeup Not only does mRNA never enter the cell nucleus, it is a fragile material (hence the ultra-cold storage requirements for the vaccine) that degrades as soon as it delivers its instructions. It cannot alter a person’s DNA in the short-term or long-term.
Patients who had and recovered from COVID don’t need the vaccine The scientific community doesn’t yet know how long naturally-acquired antibodies last, so vaccine-derived immunity may still play a role in protecting patients in the long-term.
Getting a COVID vaccine will implant you with a tracking microchip This unfortunate conspiracy theory is categorically false. These vaccines (and in fact all vaccines) do not contain microchips or RFID trackers.
COVID-19 vaccines cause Lupus or infertility There is no evidence that suggests the side effect profile includes any long-term consequences like auto-immune disease or infertility. The majority of vaccine side effects (the most common of which were fatigue, headache, or soreness/redness at the injection site) manifest by the 8-week mark after injection. Trial participants will continue to be followed for several years to ensure transparency.
The COVID vaccine will be mandatory There is currently insufficient supply of vaccine to ensure a two-dose regimen to every US citizen. Tiered delivery by ranked risk category will allow those whose employment puts them in the most peril to be among the first to get vaccinated. Other high-risk groups, like the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, will be next. After that, assuming adequate stock, the vaccine should be available to anyone who chooses to receive it.
COVID vaccines can make you sick Some vaccine recipients reported symptoms of pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, or joint/muscle pain. While they overlap with COVID symptoms, these complaints are a result of the body’s immune response. mRNA vaccines are considered “reactogenic,” meaning they prompt a robust immune reaction, which can manifest as the above clinical symptoms. These may be worse in younger patients or with the second dose of the vaccine, as the immune response is typically more vigorous in those situations.
The special storage requirements will make these vaccines almost impossible to distribute Pfizer’s preparation requires -94°F, or “ultra cold” storage, which needs fresh dry ice supplementation every 5 days to maintain that frigid temperature. Moderna’s version can be shipped at -4°F, the temperature in a standard freezer. After thawing, the Pfizer vaccine is viable for 5 days and Moderna’s is usable for 30 days.
COVID vaccines provide long-term immunity Duration of immunity from vaccination is yet undetermined. While a two-dose series may be enough to provide a lifetime of immunity, we may also need an annual COVID shot, much like our current Flu recommendations. Researchers will continue to follow vaccine study participants to assess longevity of antibody response.
The COVID vaccine will quickly make the pandemic go away Vaccinating a critical number of people will allow us to achieve “herd immunity,” a situation wherein enough people have antibodies to the virus and it can no longer find a viable human host. While the threshold for herd immunity in COVID is unknown, for Measles it occurs when 95% of the population demonstrate immunity. A September study out of Stanford University estimated 9% of Americans have had COVID so far, so without vaccinating, it will take a lot more tragedy to achieve the levels needed to claim herd immunity and protect the masses. Until then, we need to maintain masking, physical distancing, and meticulous hand-washing to succeed in keeping safe.

MYTH FACT
COVID vaccines were rushed into production with untested technology The mRNA technology behind the two earliest approved vaccines is not new, but the application is novel. Moderna’s mRNA vaccine trials involved at least 30,000 participants and Pfizer’s included 43,000 participants just for the third phase of study. The integrity of the scientific process was not compromised, and safety and efficacy were prioritized.
COVID vaccines can give you a COVID infection Because the mRNA only codes for a protein on the outside of the COVID-19 cell surface and includes no actual virusmaterial, its introduction to the body cannot cause COVID.
mRNA vaccines can change your DNA or genetic makeup Not only does mRNA never enter the cell nucleus, it is a fragile material (hence the ultra-cold storage requirements for the vaccine) that degrades as soon as it delivers its instructions. It cannot alter a person’s DNA in the short-term or long-term.
Patients who had and recovered from COVID don’t need the vaccine The scientific community doesn’t yet know how long naturally-acquired antibodies last, so vaccine-derived immunity may still play a role in protecting patients in the long-term.
Getting a COVID vaccine will implant you with a tracking microchip This unfortunate conspiracy theory is categorically false. These vaccines (and in fact all vaccines) do not contain microchips or RFID trackers.
COVID-19 vaccines cause Lupus or infertility There is no evidence that suggests the side effect profile includes any long-term consequences like auto-immune disease or infertility. The majority of vaccine side effects (the most common of which were fatigue, headache, or soreness/redness at the injection site) manifest by the 8-week mark after injection. Trial participants will continue to be followed for several years to ensure transparency.
The COVID vaccine will be mandatory There is currently insufficient supply of vaccine to ensure a two-dose regimen to every US citizen. Tiered delivery by ranked risk category will allow those whose employment puts them in the most peril to be among the first to get vaccinated. Other high-risk groups, like the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, will be next. After that, assuming adequate stock, the vaccine should be available to anyone who chooses to receive it.
COVID vaccines can make you sick Some vaccine recipients reported symptoms of pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, or joint/muscle pain. While they overlap with COVID symptoms, these complaints are a result of the body’s immune response. mRNA vaccines are considered “reactogenic,” meaning they prompt a robust immune reaction, which can manifest as the above clinical symptoms. These may be worse in younger patients or with the second dose of the vaccine, as the immune response is typically more vigorous in those situations.
The special storage requirements will make these vaccines almost impossible to distribute Pfizer’s preparation requires -94°F, or “ultra cold” storage, which needs fresh dry ice supplementation every 5 days to maintain that frigid temperature. Moderna’s version can be shipped at -4°F, the temperature in a standard freezer. After thawing, the Pfizer vaccine is viable for 5 days and Moderna’s is usable for 30 days.
COVID vaccines provide long-term immunity Duration of immunity from vaccination is yet undetermined. While a two-dose series may be enough to provide a lifetime of immunity, we may also need an annual COVID shot, much like our current Flu recommendations. Researchers will continue to follow vaccine study participants to assess longevity of antibody response.
The COVID vaccine will quickly make the pandemic go away Vaccinating a critical number of people will allow us to achieve “herd immunity,” a situation wherein enough people have antibodies to the virus and it can no longer find a viable human host. While the threshold for herd immunity in COVID is unknown, for Measles it occurs when 95% of the population demonstrate immunity. A September study out of Stanford University estimated 9% of Americans have had COVID so far, so without vaccinating, it will take a lot more tragedy to achieve the levels needed to claim herd immunity and protect the masses. Until then, we need to maintain masking, physical distancing, and meticulous hand-washing to succeed in keeping safe.

 


The introduction of vaccines to fight COVID-19 is a shining example of what can happen when science and innovation unite toward a common goal. The kind of open sharing of information and collaboration between companies and countries has been exceptional, and is a testament to the singular goal we all share: ending the COVID-19 pandemic. When it comes to educating the public, the loudest voices aren’t always the most accurate, so we must be vigilant when we decide which sources to trust. Just as vaccines brought about the eradication of Smallpox in 1972 and Polio in 1979, the hope is that an extensive vaccine campaign can bring about the end of COVID as well. Patience plays a role as well, as we wait for proper scientific studies to confirm the safety of these vaccines in younger children, and for production of the vaccine to meet the demands of the general public. COVID-19 vaccines have tremendous potential to deter suffering and save lives, and hasten the resolution of this devastating pandemic.

For additional information and resources, visit our COVID-19 Resource Center.

Written by Dr. Carly Wilbur, UH Pediatrician and psi Medical Director.

Making the Grade Difference Maker- psi’s Tina Longworth

Tina Longworth, District Nurse at Norton City Schools, has been nominated as a Making the Grade Difference Maker! Congratulations Tina! We are so proud to have such a dedicated, passionate care-giver like you on the psi team.  Together, we are Raising the Power of Education!

 

From the Akron Beacon Journal:

Tina Longworth, Norton City School, District Nurse

District explains nomination: Tina Longworth, the district nurse for Norton City Schools, needs to be recognized for the countless hours that she has worked to connect with our families and students during the school year. Her knowledge and calm spirit have helped many individuals whether that is students, staff, parents or community members. Both of these characteristics are extremely beneficial while working in the schools with everyday scenarios that vary in degree. Norton schools are blessed to have such a caring Difference Maker, who leads our care team, while supporting all members of our Panther Nation!