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How to ease your child's back-to-school anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic

Some school districts across Maine are increasing their number of in-person learning days. Some parents might need help talking to their kids about anxiety.

BANGOR, Maine — Heading back to the classroom after more than a year of learning from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, can be a stressful reality for some students. 

Several outbreaks across the state have recently forced schools to switch to remote learning full-time, but some school districts across Maine are expanding their number of in-person learning days.

Chris McLaughlin, the Associate Vice President of Community and Pediatric Services at Northern Light Acadia Hospital in Bangor, says anxiety is a common and healthy reaction.

McLaughlin says parents should listen to their children and talk to them about the challenges they're facing in this new version of school. 

He says it helps to remind kids of other first-time experiences they’ve had in the past. Helping them realize they’re having some of those same fears now and overcame them can be comforting. 

Maintaining an open dialog with your children about going back to school is something else parents can do.

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“Avoid the surprise when possible so that kids have an opportunity to plan and prepare themselves," says McLaughlin. "Make sure that you’re having those conversations. We don’t want kids to feel like the rug being pulled from underneath their feet again that admittedly may have felt like a year ago.”

Although going back to the classroom may not be best for all students, McLaughlin thinks the setting a school provides is essential for all aspects of learning. 

For help talking to your kids about COVID, you can visit the Maine Department of Education's webpage or the COVID page from the Governor's Office of Policy Innovation and the Future

If you or someone you know needs help with their children, you can visit the Maine Children's Behavioral Health Services website for help.