wplg logo

Mental heath experts help children and parents tackle back-to-school COVID-19 anxiety

Along with the typical back to school stress, this year there's the added anxiety of returning to in-person learning in the midst of COVID.
Along with the typical back to school stress, this year there's the added anxiety of returning to in-person learning in the midst of COVID.

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – Students in Monroe County were back in school as of Thursday, Aug. 12, and those in Miami-Dade and Broward County will be heading to class in the coming days.

In addition to the typical back to school stress, this year there’s the added anxiety of returning to in-person learning in the midst of COVID.

After a year of home schooling her kids during this pandemic, Broward mom Lisa Paugh is now preparing her kids, and herself, for a return to the classroom next week.”It’s terrifying some days and some days I’m like ‘this is cool I got this’”, she said.

Dr. Aaron Jeckell, a child and adolescent psychiatrist with Broward Health Coral Springs said the fear of the unknown is weighing heavily on many kids and their parents this year.

”Every sniffle every cough, kids are going to be looking over their shoulder,” Jackell said.

“They’re getting a lot of good information, they’re getting a lot of bad information, they’re probably getting information from social media that hasn’t been vetted about what is or isn’t safe: ‘Do masks work? Do they not work? Should I get a vaccine? Should I not get a vaccine? ‘ ” he said.

The psychiatrist advises parents to to validate the stress kids may be feeling and to be compassionate about the worries they express.

”Using language like ‘Let’s talk about what you’re feeling, these are big feelings, this is stressful, and, we can get through this together’, can be really helpful,” he said.

After visiting the schools her kids will attend, Paugh said she feels comfortable that they’ll be in good hands, including her own.

”I can protect and do things for us and my children and my husband, but we just have to trust and know that we really can’t control things which is a little scary but, we do it,” she said.

If you notice that your child is struggling so much so that it’s affecting their ability to function, or your own, Jeckell said it might be time to look for support either through the school guidance counselor or from an outside professional.


About the Authors:

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.