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20 January 2022

How to answer children’s covid-19 concerns

Back to school is always a time of nerves and excitement – for students…

Back to school is always a time of nerves and excitement – for students and families alike.

But throw in a global pandemic and a staggered return to face-to-face learning and, for some, you can add anxiety to the list.

Kirrilie Smout, a clinical child/adolescent psychologist and the director of Developing Minds, said children were not immune from covid-19 concerns as they prepared for the 2022 school year.

“Dealing with coronavirus can be tough for everyone – kids, young people and adults – from all walks of life,” Mrs Smout said. 

“For children with ‘big feelings’, and challenging life events, it can be even harder.”

She said children’s concerns could range from missing out on time with friends, to the cancellation of school sport and excursions, to fear of catching covid-19 themselves.

Mrs Smout, pictured, said it was important to reassure children that this situation would not last forever.

“Let them know that many things will be rescheduled, or will start again. We don’t know exactly when but, sometime in the future,” she said.

For children worried about catching covid-19, Mrs Smout said parents and caregivers should assure them that, in most young people, it was a very mild illness.

She urged parents to tell their children: “This is what happens to most people who gets coronavirus – they feel a bit hot, they have a cough, they feel tired and sometimes they have a sore body. This lasts for a few days or a week and then they are completely better. It is very unlikely to hurt you too much, and you will just lie in bed and watch TV or read for a little while.”

She also said very young children should be reassured catching covid-19 was “not their fault”.

There were a few key ways to deal with children’s general concerns.

Catholic Education South Australia also acknowledged that many parents, and children, would be feeling a range of emotions ahead of school’s return.

“We also know that everyone’s situation is different,” it said.

“Some parents will be delighted that their child will be returning to the classroom. Equally, some will be delighted that their child will be learning remotely.

“Some parents – particularly those with a child or family member with a health condition that puts them at greater risk, or those with a child yet to have a vaccine – may be feeling anxious.

“Some parents – particularly those with children in multiple year levels – may be wondering how they will navigate the return to school.

“Unprecedented times call for an unprecedented response. We haven’t been in this position before and we will all be feeling a range of emotions. We can, however, choose to respond to each other with respect and kindness.”

It said two things were certain: “We’re 100% committed to supporting the learning and wellbeing of our students. And we’re 100% committed to work with every family as we navigate the start to the 2022 school year together.”

Any Blackfriars student requiring help can contact our school Counsellor Dianne Bucciarelli at dbucciarelli@bps.sa.edu.au or 8169 3904, or Psychologist Carlo Tropiano at ctropiano@bps.sa.edu.au or 8169 3907.

For more information on Blackfriars’ return-to-school plans, see the letter attached.