Children and teachers will both need counselling on their COVID-19 experience to help them to cope with returning to the school environment when schools reopen, a prominent psychologist has suggested.
Shawn Clarke, chief executive officer of Supreme Counselling for Personal Development, said the impact the pandemic is having on the nation’s children, particularly the national shutdown, may have changed some attitudes and behaviour.
Students and teachers will have a lot of adjusting to do as it will not be business as usual post-COVID-19, he said.
Clarke told Barbados TODAY: “When school physically reopens, and I know they are looking at September, whenever they begin, the first two weeks of school you cannot go straight into the English, and the Mathematics and the Spanish and the French.
“I think that there will be need for counsellors and psychologists to go into the schools. I know there are a number of teachers qualified in psychology and there are the guidance counsellors who can help.
“There must be a level of intervention to talk to children about the whole COVID-19 experience and how it was being told that you have to stay at home. I am in my 40’s and since I became an adult this is the first time that I have been told I can’t leave home when I want to.”
The psychologist said it is no secret that some children are trapped in homes where there are domestic violence, child abuse, and other troubling events prevail.
Clarke said: “Some children, when at school, they hate to see Friday evenings because it means that they have a whole weekend at home, in a violent household or in a household where there is nothing to eat. These are the children who would have seen school as a haven.
“For them, at least, ‘when I am at school I am going to get away from daddy beating mummy or mummy beating daddy. At school Miss Henry is going to buy me a roti and Mr Clarke is going to give me a drink,’ so they had something to look forward to.
“But they now have to speak about their experience when home became school and school became home, there was no escape route, there was nowhere for these children to go. So there will be need for some level of counselling to talk to these children about these experiences.”
For children whose family members contracted COVID-19, public knowledge of this leads to the possibility that those students would be targets for bullying when they return to school, and they will definitely be in need of counselling sessions, the psychologist said.
Clarke also indicated that students and teachers will now have to adjust to the concept of social distancing while in a classroom setting.
Teachers, too, will need professional counselling to help them overcome the scars suffered during the pandemic, he said.
And he suggested that teachers whose homes have now been turned into classrooms, will also have to learn to readjust to the physical school environment.
Clarke told Barbados TODAY: “It cannot be school as usual when they physically reopen school. It will take some time and there will be some adjusting to the whole school climate. There are some parents that will still want to keep their children at home.
“Such is the case with Class Fours returning to school next month. There are some parents who are so scared who will not allow their child to go to school unless there is a vaccine.
“So come September there will still be parents with this fear. I think it is going to take a good year or so to get back to what we consider to be normal life.”
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