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Supportive Tips for OR Students as In-Person Learning Returns

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Thursday, August 12, 2021   

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Students are set to return to the classroom in Oregon, fueling a mix of emotions.

Health and education professionals have some tips for parents to support their children. While some are excited to be back in the classroom with their peers, others are anxious after a hard year spent largely in isolation.

Roberto Aguilar, president of the Oregon School Counselor Association and a high school counselor in Milwaukie, said consistency is important for making kids feel secure.

"Whatever that routine is for the families, I think that is key," Aguilar advised. "'This is what I do now, this is what I can control.' Give you that sense of control to begin your day and know that there's going to be some ebbs and flows throughout the day while you're at school, but you at least have a routine set for yourself."

Aguilar pointed out it will be important for school staff to make people feel welcome, too. While the transition could be scary, he noted in-person learning has many benefits, such as supporting kids' social development.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in-person learning for this fall is a priority and offered resources for talking to kids about COVID-19.

Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare Employer and Individual, said parents should check in regularly with kids, listening and watching for even subtle changes in their mood or behavior.

She added it is important to prepare for the school year to be disrupted by things such as contact tracing, quarantining or school going virtual for several days if there is a COVID-19 outbreak.

"So just going into the year thinking about, 'OK, we're going to be flexible,' and recognizing that some of those changes may come, and how to adapt," Randall recommended.

Randall emphasized parents should speak with their pediatricians if they are concerned for their child's wellbeing.

Aguilar stressed parents should not be afraid to ask how their kids are doing, noting teenagers might give one-word answers at times.

"They're not always going to be long, but sometimes they're surprising," Aguilar remarked. "And they're young adults, and they will share, but if you don't ask the question, the answer is no. And so we need to treat our young adults like young adults and ask them those questions."

Disclosure: United Healthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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