Children with identified histories of trauma may be especially vulnerable to the significant changes in schedule, routine and
expectations resulting from social distancing, canceled classes, remote learning, and reliance on caregivers for academics.
The stressors and conditions of this crisis can place all children at additional risk for trauma and loss.
Other students may also be at additional risk during this time, including those students:
- With a history of anxiety;
- Who have had episodes of depression or suicidal ideation;
- With learning and attention disorders;
- With a history of child abuse or domestic violence;
- Whose families may have lost jobs or income;
- With loved ones particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus;
- Whose caregivers are healthcare workers, or who work in occupa-
tions with potential exposure to the virus;
- Whose parents are divorced, separated, or live in different loca-
- Experiencing less supervision because of caregivers’ work sched-
Educators and school staff
Educators and school staff can consider the following strategies during
this time, to help identify which students might be experiencing traumat-
ic stress and need further intervention during this crisis.
- Use existing knowledge of your students to be aware of who may
be at greater risk, and find opportunities for short, individual
check-ins to see how they are doing.
- Consider doing an activity such as a reflective circle, to provide an
opportunity for students to share their feelings about the crisis.
- Note any changes in students’ behavior. For example, is a student acting more tired or listless than normal, or having
more difficulty concentrating? Is a child who is usually relatively focused now unable to stay with one train of thought?
Does a normally social child seem more withdrawn? These may be normal reactions to the change in environment and
the current circumstances, or they may warrant further assessment by a mental health professional.
Administrators can consider the following strategies during this time, to help identify which students might be experiencing
traumatic stress and need further intervention during this crisis.
- Consider working with school mental health and/or community partners with expertise in trauma to explore ways to
identify students who may be experiencing mental health and trauma symptoms associated with the COVID-19.
- In your regular communication with families, it may be useful to normalize the stress and mention ways that mental
health professionals can help children or caregivers to cope with that stress. List symptoms that children and families
could be experiencing and provide mental health resources.
- Ensure that all staff have been trained to identify reactions of trauma and mental health, and know the procedures for
linking a student to additional supports. You may partner with an NCTSN site or local community mental health center
with expertise in trauma.