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The pandemic and its impact on instruction is wreaking havoc on some school kids

The transition from virtual learning to in-person instruction has been tough on school kids. A Virginia Tech professor reports significant increases in academic and social-emotional concerns. 

Research is still being conducted, but early data suggests about 20% of school children are experiencing moderate to clinical levels of psychological trauma symptoms – things like anxiety, depression or even aggression.

Dr. Rosanna Breaux teaches psychology at Virginia Tech and runs the school’s Child Study Center. She says there are certainly red flags to look for.

Dr. Rosanna Breaux
Virginia Tech
Dr. Rosanna Breaux

“Really intense patterns of irritability or sadness – typically going on for a couple weeks," she explains. "For younger kids, this might be excessive crying or clinginess. So, big changes in behavior from what their baseline is.”  

Breaux says kids experiencing those symptoms can also see their academic performance dip. Parents and teachers should set realistic goals to help motivate students – for example, setting a goal of an hour of homework per day. That – she stresses – will be more helpful than focusing on where they should be based upon pre-pandemic metrics.

Breaux also emphasizes both parents and teachers need to take care of themselves, too.

“And so using our own coping strategies, relying on our own social supports, monitoring our own mental health and our own stress levels actually makes us better teachers and better parents,” Breaux says. 

She says addressing concerns early – including with the help of a counselor or therapist – is vital to helping kids get back to their healthy selves.

RADIO IQ is a service of Virginia Tech. 

Nick Gilmore is a meteorologist, news producer and reporter/anchor for RADIO IQ.