In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, teachers, counselors, and administrators alike are left grappling with keeping students safe and engaged among a myriad of new restrictions. These restrictions vary from school to school but likely include wearing masks when indoors, social distancing in already cramped classrooms, and little to no daytime movement. While these restrictions have been designed for a student’s physical safety, all too often, these regulations restrict the lessons teachers can give.

For example, the need for a socially distant classroom has lessened group work, which cuts down on differentiated instruction, social, emotional, and time management skills. While group work can be emulated through virtual methods, those activities cannot replace the real-world application of hands-on, in-person group work.

Even more importantly, in the socially distant classroom where group work and small group instruction have become virtually impossible, students’ social, emotional needs are at risk. Teachers need to adapt to this change in circumstances and allow students opportunities for academic growth and emotional growth.

Also, teachers must be keenly aware of the physical toll the virus can take on a student. Despite the restrictions given to any given school, teachers must develop their own methods to identify at-risk students and get them the help they need. Even more than that, they must develop a language for discussing these issues in the classroom that is developmentally appropriate for their students.

While it is important to monitor students for the physical signs and symptoms of COVID 19, it is also imperative to monitor their mental health. No matter the situation – a virtual, hybrid, or in-person – students are not receiving the same amount of socialization they once enjoyed in the classroom, so consider these warning signs when working with students.

Warning signs develop differently depending on students’ age level but often include a withdrawal from both adults and their peers and a general decline in student behavior. Younger students might begin sucking their thumbs or wetting their beds, whereas older students might develop a lack of concentration irritability.

To learn more on how to support students through the ever-changing rules and regulations of the coronavirus pandemic, visit the
National Association of School Psychologists