Back to School During COVID19

As a Mother, I feel fearful for my child’s safety! Even though my children are grown adults! I wonder if they are being careful enough, social distancing at all times, wearing their masks, washing their hands and keeping each other and their children safe.

As a Teacher, my fellow educators are there out of love and a passion for knowledge and growth. They did not sign on as a Policeman to teach children how to be safe if a gunman should attack. They did not sign on as a Nurse, risking their lives or the lives of their families to teach a child to read, write, or socialize. Teachers are creative. They use all the resources they have and flexibly teach around adversaries such as learning disabilities, too many children in a classroom or teaching on-line when necessary to keep everyone safe.

As a PhD in Brain Studies, I understand the brain. I understand how we best learn, how to recognize issues and concerns with the brain and what is a systemic problem versus a stress-induced issue. When we have an entire World affected by COVID19 we understand it is a ‘problem for all of us’ not just one Country or one State or one City.

As the Director of Education at Zengar Institute I find myself grinding my teeth as I think of school reopening in the middle of a Pandemic. The schools, of course, care a great deal for the children and in many cases have their own children in the school as well. So, their instinct to protect and educate is strong. I know people react and respond to stress in different ways. Adults many times can articulate their ‘discomfort’ knowing that this feeling is different than their body normally feels. “Boy, I feel different, my head hurts, I feel warm, my body seems achy.” We also can reason with those feelings, “I saw the Doctor yesterday, or I haven’t been outside and therefore, not exposed to anyone.” We notice these things because we know something is different, we notice and acknowledge our discomfort and want to feel different.

Children, on the other hand, many times do not recognize the ‘differences’ nor can they easily articulate why or even that they feel different. Instead their bodies will ‘display’ their thoughts, their words, their feelings. Without those past experiences to compare to, they many times can’t tell that their body feels different. They do not have the ‘words’ to explain these weird sensations “I can no longer smell” or “I can’t concentrate” or “I feel anxious”.

Instead they display their ‘feelings & concerns’ in actions such as:

  • Behavior regression
  • Acting out
  • Thinking differently, almost a little confusion
  • Increased irritability
  • Interaction, less or more talking to others
  • Bed wetting
  • Change in eating habits
  • Sleep changes (more or less), nightmares, talking or walking in their Sleep
  • Acting angry when unwarranted
  • Displaying aggression
  • Not following directions
  • Constant arguing
  • Cries easily
  • Headaches or stomach aches
  • Exhausted

We understand at this moment, that children when quarantined do not seem to get the virus as easily as adults do or manifest with the same symptoms. However, adults are out more often, grocery stores, pharmacy, or Home supply stores. Many times, the children are isolated from errands and all the people that a parent encounters during their day. Therefore, the child may not have had the same ability to get and share the virus yet. When we put all the children together in a ‘petri dish’ in small classrooms, sharing the same potty’s, mostly in buildings with poor ventilation, we have very little experience with how that will affect our children.

I cannot imagine the thoughts a child must be going through during this questionable time at home. However, to hear the news, the radio, watching on Social Media and during adult dialogues the Pros and Cons of ‘should they attend school or should they not attend’ and the burden of ‘what if’ they get it or carry it home to parents and grandparents must be driving them into fear and anxiety.

I have always used several different ‘stress management’ techniques and recommend to all parents that they consider introducing to their children and grandchildren a variety of ways to relieve anxiety. One is of course talking about how they feel about school, are they comfortable, would they rather stay home, do they feel protected and safe? Others may be sports or dancing, meditating, yoga, reading, breathing exercises or as we use NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback.

When we have past Leaders sharing with the world how anxious they feel and therefore, how mildly depressed they are about our situation, we must assume our children are experiencing these same feelings. That feeling of being safe is a primary need. Many of us do not feel safe from COVID19. Many people have now lost friends, parents, grandparents or other family members. The emotional scars from bringing home a virus that ultimately affects older family members is an emotional burden a child should not need to bear.

Post Contributor & Author –

Lise’ DeLong, Ph.D, CPCRT
Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapist
Director of Education

About Lise: Lise specialized in Language Disorders (reading, writing, Listening, Speaking) in Children from newborn to Young Adults. She owned and operated a Private Accredited Preschool, Elementary School, and Middle School focusing in Brain-Based Education in Greenwood Indiana.

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