BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — This is a pretty different back-to-school season, and even without the added worries of COVID-19, it could still be an emotional transition for students as they get back into classrooms. Bakersfield city school district psychologist and coordinator, Gina Gordon-Lopez, talks about how schools are trying to bridge that emotional gap.
As students are transitioning from online school to in-person classrooms, teachers and staff are putting a lot of emphasis on social and emotional learning, and one way is through journaling.
“A lot of focus being on socialization activities, exploration of feelings and fostering communication.”
Gordon-Lopez said this year’s back-to-school won’t just be about understanding rules and procedures, “it'll just be upon getting back to being with your friends, what does that look like...the focus will not be primarily on academics to start.”
Some of those activities include ice-breakers, mindfulness sessions, journaling, special greetings, reading and telling stories, listening circles and team-building interactions.
“We created what we call “community-building lessons” so it’s pretty much a slide deck for every day of the entire school year and it helps teachers create an environment where students feel like they are loved, like they belong and are part of a family.”
BCSD's Liz Toruno said most of these resources were always around, but after the pandemic the schools consolidated these programs and are pushing them for classrooms.
Gordon-Lopez called these systems “emotional temperature checks” so teachers and staff can gauge how their students are feeling.
“Things to really enhance communication and feelings so i think that will be a different component that we’ll see in post COVID back-to-school.”
Even though every child is different, there are a few things families can look out for to tell school staff about if their student is struggling: “aggression, emotional outbursts, irritability, feeling withdrawn, fear of going back to school, but not all of our kids are going to respond the same way.”
Both experts highlighted that students are resilient and that the main message is all about moving forward.
“The entire world was in the same predicament when it comes to education disruption, and we are moving from here together.”