Bracing for Back to School

Written by: The Circles Team

Aug 23, 2021

‘Frame of Mind’ discusses current events in the mental health and emotional wellbeing space. Today’s edition centers on the anxieties surrounding returning to school, as parents and their children brace for this new transition as the COVID19 pandemic continues.

“Are masks mandatory?”

“Is everyone vaccinated?”

“Will social distancing be enforced?”

“I’m worried about the pressure to go to events and be social”

“I got used to online classes, what if I can’t adapt to in-person classes?”

As the summer is coming to a close, all of these thoughts, and more, are swirling through the minds of both students and their parents across the country as they weigh the consequences of returning to school.

After an unprecedented year that is continuing to be filled with uncertainties, a return to pre-pandemic life, if we can even call it that, is overwhelming for a lot of people.

For parents of younger students, there are concerns because their children, and that of other parents, aren’t of age to be vaccinated. This worry is heightened given many schools do not have a mask mandate.

For parents of older students, the concern is whether the other students opted to receive the vaccination, or whether their parents did.

For students themselves, in addition to the aforementioned health concerns, there are also social concerns. If you haven’t been surrounded by hundreds of people in over a year, being in that type of environment again can be overwhelming. If you’re trying to be socially distant, there may be social consequences for not going to an event.

On the flip side of that coin, how can schools receive their students who have just undergone a year of stress and deterioration in their mental health?

A March 2021 report found that nearly half of Chicago parents had talked with their child’s doctor about mental or behavioral health concerns they had for their child within the last 6 to 12 months.

A recent study found that ​​during the pandemic, depression, and anxiety in youth doubled compared to pre-pandemic levels. One in four adolescents globally are “experiencing clinically elevated depression symptoms, while one in five youth are experiencing clinically elevated anxiety symptoms.”

For families who don’t feel confident in their school’s precautionary measures, it’s not clear if remote options will be available. Many districts across the country, like New York City, have said they will not allow students to remain to learn remotely, despite the preference of many families, especially in communities of color, who have said they prefer remote learning during the pandemic.

All of these considerations heading into the fall have made the “back to school” routine far from what it used to be, to say the least. That being said, the idea of starting in-person school again doesn’t need to feel as daunting as it has.

Both parents and students can reach out to school administrators and teachers to assess what they can do together to ensure a safe transition back, both physically and mentally.

As we like to say at Circles, we get better together, and communicating our concerns and sharing resources can alleviate the stressors that are arising as we head back to school.

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