Kids Are Anxious to Return Back for the New School Year

‘s on This year marks the fourth school year the pandemic has impacted, and students are anxious about returning. While many schools throughout the country are returning to pre-pandemic operations, some kids can’t shake what they have been experiencing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adjusted their guidelines on August 11, 2022, surrounding social distancing and quarantining while also focusing on reducing severe illness. With these new guidelines, the CDC no longer suggests staying six feet apart from others. They also added that contact tracing and regular testing should be limited to high-risk settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, or prisons.

These new guidances also do not require quarantining for those exposed to COVID, as long as they are not infected. While these may be good news for some, some things won't change. The CDC still advises that people in close contact with COVID maintain a routine testing regimen, and anyone who tests positive should stay home for five days. People who test positive should also wear a mask around others for ten days.

In a press release Greta Massetti, Ph.D., MPH, and MMWR author, commented on the updated CDC guidance. “We’re in a stronger place today as a nation, with more tools – like vaccination, boosters, and treatments – to protect ourselves and our communities from a severe illness from COVID-19.

“We also have a better understanding of protecting people from being exposed to the virus, like wearing high-quality masks, testing, and improved ventilation. This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives,” Massetti explained.

What Kids Are Most Anxious For

Jennifer Thompson is the Executive Director of the New Jersey and Delaware chapters of the National Association of Social Workers. Her son Michael will start the fourth grade this year.

“We live in a community where our precautions have always been much higher than the average community member, which has been hard for young kids to understand,” Thompson said.

“This year, we’re normalizing masks again – getting him ready to wear them in school and talking about how he can decide if and when that’s a good idea. Since mask mandates are lifted in our school, with no return on the horizon, it’s important to us that our child feel empowered to wear them confidently in spaces where he may be in a tight space, with lots of people, and remove it when he’s less at risk.”

Thompson said that speaking to her son about how to make those decisions and practicing them in public has been vital. While they may not wear a mask to run and grab ice cream in an empty shop, they do wear them to the movies.

“We’re also letting him pick out his most comfortable type of mask with designs he likes,” Thompson said. “It’s also been very important to us to talk about why we make decisions to mask and stay healthy – and what’s at risk if we don’t.”

In the fall, Thompson said the family has plans to take a vacation at Disney, so they have been talking about practicing good safety and masking ahead of time so that they don’t ruin the family vacation they have been waiting to take for a few years.

While Thompson said that her son is not anxious about COVID, other issues have been uprising in their district.

“The reality is that these kids are dealing with a lot of other nuanced issues, and in our district, it’s race,” Thompson said. “There’s huge anxiety among kids of color that they will return to school this year. The end of our school year was met with kids defaming the yearbooks on the signature day with racist/anti-Semitic images and works, and then school was out.”

Thompson said that the kids didn’t get closure to that, including her son.

“They’re worried about returning to school where there are kids who espouse deeply harmful beliefs about them/their culture and/or skin color,” Thompson said. “It’s hard to believe, but if we were to dig into many districts, you’d hear this reiterated time and again.”

For Some Kids, Returning to School Isn’t So Much About COVID, but School Violence

CEO Kathleen Fletcher of Kitty Baby Love is a mother of three and says she has suffered from anxiety about her kids returning to school. Her son, Jacob, will be entering the fourth grade this coming school year.

Fletcher said that she is quite happy for masks to return if there is a surge this fall or winter, but since Jacob is double vaccinated and has already had COVID – in the Omicron wave last winter, she has no real concerns for his safety. She said that the school district they are in doesn’t seem too concerned either, with pre-COVID business as usual.

While some parents are concerned about their kids returning to school for a fourth year in the pandemic, that's not what's on Fletcher's mind.

“It isn’t the fear of a COVID resurgence that is making him, or indeed me, anxious about returning to school this year, since it seems to most of my fellow moms and me that the worst of COVID is in the review mirror,” Fletcher said.

“Jason is now starting to reach the age where he is beginning to pay attention to, and begin to understand, the world around him, so the recent Uvalde school shooting has been quite traumatizing for him,” Fletcher said. “When something dominates the national conversation so much, kids will naturally pick up on it. He can’t understand why anyone would do something like that, and I think it’s this realization that bad people exist in the world that is making him anxious as much as the fear that it could happen to him at school, too.”

Fletcher says that she has tried to reassure him and herself by drawing attention to the fact there are millions of school children in the US, and the vast majority never have and never will experience a school shooting situation.

“Often, though, with school shootings weighing so heavily on the national consciousness, rationalizations like this just don’t work for getting rid of that horrible, visceral anxiety that you can feel in your gut,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher has been taking time to practice art therapy with Jacob and said it’s been going great. She says having a creative outlet that requires all your attention and, from what Jacob said, is a fantastic way of taking your mind off of things that might be troubling you.

“I also encourage Jacob to go out and play and to exercise as much as possible, which seems to be keeping him happy and care-free, at least for the moment,” Fletcher said. “Things might change a little as we edge closer to back to school, but right now, we’re doing okay.”

Fletcher also added that she thinks it’s nothing short of a national disgrace that a nine-year-old child should feel anxiety about getting killed at school in a developed nation.

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This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.