New Jersey coronavirus update: Teaneck schools focusing on mental health as students return to class

Coronavirus Update New Jersey
NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- Teaneck Public Schools want to make sure students are in the right frame of mind before focusing on academics as they return to in-person classes.

The focus of the first two days of school is on personal well-being and mental health.

"It would be disenguous to begin the school year just by jumping in and talking about A, B, Cs and 1, 2, 3s. We're really focusing on how they feel. Where they've been for the last year and a half," Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christopher Irving said.

Some students haven't been in classrooms since March 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic first hit.

"My grades fell, my social skills fell, anxiety increased," high school senior Omar Usmani said.

Nearly a dozen Teaneck families of students were directly impacted by the virus.

Parents will also have access to the mental health experts from the school district.

Teachers are asking students to express their fears, worries, or concerns as they return to in-person learning.

"Trauma is real and so we are looking even pre-K all the way through high school at all our students and take nothing for granted," Irving said. "Every single child is going to have a microscope on them. A microscope of care, compassion, and love, but a microscope nonetheless."
Mental health experts say there are signs to watch when students are struggling in this COVID-19 environment.

Dr. Stacey doumas
Chief child and adolescent psychiatry
Jersey shore medical center

"If you see anything that's really different than how they were you know prior to this you really want to talk to them and ask what's going on," Jersey Shore Medical Center's Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Dr. Stacy Doumas, said.

Teachers, administrators, and school support staff will also have help available along with the students.

"I think it's an important thing to do for the school year especially since we were out for so long," high school senior Michael Quinn said.

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