Navigating the new normal

With most of Long Island practicing social distancing to stop the spread of the coronavirus, it can be difficult to adjust to the realities of life in self-quarantine.

To help you navigate through life under isolation, nextLI outreach and engagement manager Coralie Saint-Louis spoke with Long Island experts to learn how to make the best of learning, working and maintaining a healthy lifestyle all from home.


How to adjust to schooling at home with Hofstra professor Roberto Joseph.

Q & A with Roberto Joseph – associate professor of Educational Technology at Hofstra University

Dr. Roberto Joseph is an assistant professor of Teaching, Learning, and Technology in Hofstra’s School of Education. He is the program director for the School of Education’s Master of Arts in Technology for Learning. His primary research consists of culture in educational technologies and systemic change in education, on which he has published several articles. As a Gates Millennium Scholar, Dr. Joseph is committed to assisting schools to create meaningful learning environments to answer the future needs of students and society.

Q: How can parents adjust to the schools being closed?

A: The challenge I think is in a couple of ways. One is, what do we do with the young kids, the ones in first grade, second grade, third grade. They are at their parent’s home and have access to the technology, there are a lot of great tools. A site such as the Khan Academy has a section for really young kids and there are books on there that have guided reading.

They’re stuck with technology as long as you have access to technology, right?

The issue is, well, what if I don’t? What if I’m in a household that doesn’t have a computer and I can’t get out there to get into a library. For parents who are homeschooling their kids at the moment with no technology, you’d have to organize your day around hands-on resources, reading books, and writing activities.

Q: What are some recommendations that you have for parents who have to provide some kind of structure to their kids?

A: This is where I think a lot of schools and principals are going to be providing a lot of that guidance. In terms of a schedule, you want to have your typical routine. You want to keep the time to about a half an hour to 45-minute increments of a specific activity.

Let’s say, they get up in the morning and then the first thing they do is watch or go through a Khan Academy math activity, and then maybe after that, they take a little snack break, and then after that, they might read off of the computer. Here’s the book to read, these are the pages. The parents might have ready a specific question about the reading that could serve as a writing prompt. You may want to break up the day with a little creative, artistic activity. Lay out a bunch of activities using the technology as a support system.

As I said, for young people. Khan Academy is great. PBS has a bunch of learning resources as well for educators that parents could tap into. This is a great opportunity for parents, caregivers and older siblings to engage with kids in a way that they haven’t been able to before.

Q: Is it recommended to maintain the same school schedule that the kids used to have?

A: As much as possible. You want to keep kids in that routine if possible.

Recommended tools for parents:


Healthy eating advice from Great Neck Medical nutrition consultant Nancy Mazarin.

Are you taking frequent trips to the refrigerator since you’ve been in isolation? Are you eating more junk food than usual? Do you eat a lot of snacks when you get bored? You might have a case of cabin fever. According to Great Neck Medical nutrition consultant Nancy Mazarin, breaking these bad eating habits start at the grocery store: “If you go and you purchase a lot of junk food, then you’re stuck in your house with these highly processed foods, which is what you’re going to eat because it’s there and you eat it because it’s there. So the issue is what is your inventory and are you cooking meals?”

Mazarin, who works with hundreds of patients on Long Island to help them create programs that are tailored to their own health goals, says you should try to stay away from “highly processed food” and should instead focus on creating a more healthy environment. “So if you decide you’re going to have mostly healthy foods at home and you’re going to bring in fruits and vegetables and greens and starches and bread and all the healthy foods, then you’re creating a healthy eating environment.”

For kids who are home from school, Mazarin recommends making them a sandwich for lunch, coupled with some nuts, pretzels and even a can of soup throughout the day. She encourages you to have at least five food groups at home, “You want some vegetables at home, so you could have raw and fresh or frozen food. Bread, pasta, rice. It’s still all limited processing. Frozen peas, corn, fish, chicken thighs, chicken breasts.”

There is a silver lining in all of this. Now that everyone is home, Mazarin says families should use this as an opportunity to eat together, work out, and even arrange those old photos you’ve been meaning to organize all these years.

“It’s an opportunity to have young people eat better. It’s a family meal. The most important thing is learning how to eat well and nourishing meals and that’s to have a family meal. It’s really a great opportunity that families get to spend time together, talk together. They have to eat together. It’s just fine if they’re 15-minute meals, spaghetti and meats are just fine. You know, roast a chicken. Why not use this while you’re home to make some homemade meals to start changing over to a more nourishing environment? It’s great. It’s a great time.”

But whatever you do, she says, don’t go to food as an activity because it’s not an activity.

Working remotely

Ten work from home tips from Michael Cusanelli.

Are you stuck working from home because of the coronavirus and need some guidance on how to shape your day? Michael Cusanelli, nextLI’s digital production manager, spent two years working from his home office as a technology writer before joining the Newsday team. Here are some helpful tips to help keep you on track and maximize your efficiency while you work from home.

Try to work on schedule like you are at a 9-5 job: Don’t work 24/7. Stick to a set schedule and make sure to do all your work within that time frame. This allows you to make time for leisure activities once your work is completed.

Keep up your hygiene: Be sure to continue to shower, shave, brush your teeth and get dressed for work every day. You might not be going to an actual office, but maintaining your appearance is good for your mental health and for helping to keep you focused on your job.

Take breaks: Don’t check your email after hours (unless you have to) and be sure to take walks, stretch and remain active.

Separate your workspace from your relaxation space: Don’t sit in your favorite spot on the couch when you work. Go work somewhere else so you can mentally separate your “work time” from your “relaxation time”.

Create a workspace that simulates one in a physical office: Make a desk for yourself with pens, paper, and other office supplies. This goes a long way in making you feel like you are working in an office and not at home.

Wake up and go to bed on time: Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can stay up all night and sleep all morning. Get up before you have to start your “shift” and also be sure to go to bed at a reasonable hour so you get the proper amount of sleep.

Don’t watch TV: You may think you can work with the TV on, but you should seek to eliminate all outside distractions so you can work efficiently and get your work done on time. If you have to listen to music, try something classical or another kind of music that you can keep on a low volume in the background.

Set up an exercise routine: You’re not going to be walking around as much when working from home, so try to set aside 15-20 minutes to do some exercising. It can be anything from jogging in place to push-ups. For free workout ideas, check out YouTube.

Don’t eat all day: You might be tempted to pilfer from the cupboards since you’re home, but try not to eat more than you normally would if you were working from an office.

Keep in regular contact with your coworkers: You can eliminate feelings of being isolated by keeping in contact with your teammates. Instead of texting or slacking them, give them a call when appropriate to remind yourself you aren’t alone. Video chatting works too!