The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many stressors for students, parents, and teachers. Recently, I watched a talk show host interview a 3rd grade student. The student stated that she had learned to lock herself out of Zoom classes. Three weeks passed before anyone realized it was an intentional act. When asked why she would lock herself out of the classes, she replied, “I was tired of zooming for school.”
Another child, who was being homeschooled due to COVID, became resistant and disinterested in schoolwork. In both cases, the parents and children became frustrated. Consequently, the parents made the decision to send their children back to school. After the first week of school, the latter child said to her parents, “Y’all made a good decision sending me back to school.”
In my local area, I had the opportunity to speak with some teachers regarding COVID anxieties. They specifically expressed their personal health and the health of their families. The teachers also conveyed their observations of the effects COVID is having on their students. Whether students attend school, Zoom, or are being homeschooled, students are experiencing challenges and often some form of trauma. The challenges may include, but are not limited to, social isolation, food insecurity, self-management, safety, personal, and/or family health issues. Students often express their desire to be in school even if it is for social interaction. These issues can also cause teachers to wonder if students are safe from mental anguish or battering.
“When physical distancing is deemed necessary, social and emotional connectedness is even more critical.”
(Karen Niemi, President and CEO of CASEL)
As this pandemic persists, students will either adopt negative or positive coping mechanisms. Empathy and understanding of student’s challenges and potential for trauma must be demonstrated when working with the students. A lack of action prevents students from fully realizing and reaching their potential as knowledgeable, caring, resilient, and responsible citizens. Teachers must act to ensure our students are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in school and in life. Resilience, self-awareness, and self-management among other competencies, should be taught to alleviate COVID anxiety. Hence, the need for Tools for Life Resources.
Dr. Carri Pillers
Tools for Life Certified Lead Trainer