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Two-month classroom layoff may mentally impact students heading back to school, expert says

Last Updated May 21, 2020 at 5:53 am PDT

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UVic psychology professor Bonnie Leadbeater says the mental health of students heading back to school will vary

Leadbeater is asking parents to talk to their kids before they head back to make sure they are okay

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Now that the provincial government has said that they believe in the June 1 model for re-opening schools, some of the youngest in B.C. are facing barriers heading back after a long layoff.

University of Victoria psychology professor Bonnie Leadbeater, who is a children’s mental health expert, says she is reminding parents to check in with their kids to see how they’re feeling in the decision to send them back to class amid the pandemic.

“I think it’s essential for parents to ease the way here and ask your kids what they think it’s going to be like, who they think is going to be there … try to imagine what it’s going to be like when they get to class.”

Leadbeater also suggests that it’s good for some kids to get back in the habit of being in the classroom, though it comes down to what parents decide in this strange new world.

“I think parents have to weigh what they can do and what they can’t do, and also watch how your child responds. Ask them what they think about all this. That could be reassuring for both the student and the parent ahead of coming back,” she says.

Leadbeater adds the transition will impact children in different ways.

Some might be fired up to go back, some could be anxious, and others could probably use the classroom time if they’re falling behind with the online work.

“I think there are lots of ways we can do this, and lots of ways we can involve both the kids who go back to class and the kids who are staying at home. We have the technology to engage everybody whether they’re physically present or not,” she explains.

Leadbeater predicts that most kids will continue to behave the same way, but with some new protocols.

She adds it’s almost going to feel like the first day of school all over again.