Kids aren’t immune to stress that comes with pandemic, quarantining

Quarantine mental health effect on children

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Kids, like the parents, that watch over them, aren’t immune to the stress that comes with the pandemic and quarantining.

Now, as the next school year approaches, there’s even more uncertainty.

An article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows nearly 23 percent of kids who were quarantined for a single month reported symptoms of depression and 20-percent had anxiety.

Loneliness in lockdown is common for kids separated from their friends. But not all children will be emotionally rattled by the pandemic equally or even at all.

“I think we don’t give kids enough credit for being as resilient as they are so I think when they pick back up they’ll pick back up and move forward,” said Meredith Lloyd, School Counselor Specialist for Brunswick County Schools. “Yes there is going to be a bit of a gap and maybe some lag time because we haven’t had them in person since March but I do think kids are very quickly able to navigate that social realm and pick up those social components back up.

“So I think when they’re back in our buildings and they’re able to regain that we’ll be able to have more of a stronger ability to focus on the academic pieces that maybe were missing. But I think – I have no evidence of this, but in my heart of hearts feel like the first few days are going to be allowing them to socially interact and how to do that safely.”

Brunswick County Schools will begin with remote learning for at least the first four-and-a-half weeks followed by in-person learning in the classroom.

Once back in the classroom, students will not be returning to the traditional settings they’re familiar with, which itself can be disorienting and distressing – that’s why it’s not out of the question those first few days kids will be allowed to be kids…

“From my department, yes that’s what I would like,” Llyod said. “We are an academic field, that’s what we’re here to do, so I do feel we’ll have to navigate both of those. We have a lot to catch up on and we want to get them back into the routine of a face-to-face educational setting but I think if we don’t allow that to an extent then it’s going to take us longer to get back into a routine. I think we’re going to have to help them understand how that’s going to work.”

Very small children might not notice anything is different except that some of their parents aren’t going to work, which may seem like all upside. But those same younger kids have a pretty good antenna when it comes to reading the anxious mood of the older people around them.

“When you look at some of the basic needs, that’s something that the counselors and social workers would focus on,” Lloyd said. “We have kids in families whose parents have lost their incomes due to Covid or are maybe having to relocate because of a sick family member, so we have children who are struggling with the most basic needs – making sure you have a home, making sure you have food, you have clothing and supplies for school. So that’s something at least in our world we’re focusing on those basic needs first and then we move into some of the higher needs. But right now, we’re looking at basic needs, focusing on that then getting them into the social realm.”

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