news 4 days ago

Coronavirus disruptions impact students

The Daily Item, Sunbury, Pa. — Rick Dandes The Daily Item, Sunbury, Pa.

Oct. 18-- Oct. 18--Students have always carried a level of anxiety, but changes amid life in a pandemic have exacerbated it over the past seven months, school counselors say.

Michael Maize, Gary Grozier, and Roger Legg are all counselors at Danville High School. They say anxiety comes in many forms related to COVID-19.

"There are a couple of different angles to this," Maize said. There is anxiety about contracting COVID. And then there is anxiety about all the conditions resulting from COVID, like remote learning and all the challenges of trying to remain socially distant.

How counselors deal with this can be done in one-on-one counseling or in a group setting, Maize said.

The anxieties kids are experiencing are similar to pre-pandemic, noted Grozier. "But I would say it has been heightened by COVID. We always have teenagers with anxiety. But this has just given us another set of problems. Another layer."

"It's always been there, anxiety, but now it is a focal point," Maize added.

It's really difficult, Legg said, "when a student isn't doing his or her work for whatever reason. It's tough when you only see a kid every other day, trying to help them. A teacher might say a student is struggling and isn't doing his work. We'll call home, we'll call mom or dad. It is really difficult to reach those students."

It was easier to work with students before the pandemic, Grozier said. "Students were here more. Now that they are so spread out, it is really difficult.

What no one talks about, Grozier said, is how anxiety by parents affects their kids. "How much students have seen COVID through their parent's viewpoint. Parents are scared. And our students that live with their grandparents are really scared. We just had an outbreak in Danville at Grandview Nursing Home. Some students' parents work at Grandview, we have students whose grandparents are residents at Grandview. That heightens their anxiety."

Maize has talked to students about the anxiety brought on by COVID.

"Parents will get overloaded in trying to figure out whether their kid can go out and do things with other kids," he said. "And what the risk of exposure is and how socially distant they should be. These are daily conversations that parents are discussing. Kids will get tired of COVID, like everybody else and go do things. Go hang out and not worry about social distancing. Then they come home and weigh what they have just done against the risk to their parents and grandparents, and will have periods of remorse. And ill feelings about having been out in the world.

"It is a really tough cycle of responsibility versus living your life," Maize said. "Broadly, I think that is what everyone in this country is dealing with right now."

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