Mental health experts worry school re-entry delays taking a toll on kids

From returning to school to not returning to school, mental health experts are worried about the effects these inconsistencies have on our kids.

Video Transcript

- It keeps on flip-flopping. Don't like it.

- I was really disappointed because, like, I wanted to get back to somewhat normalcy.

- [? And ?] I honestly don't know yet how we're going to tell him.

MICHELLE WOLF: Dejected, disappointed, and in disbelief as students and parents get their hopes up after several back and forth decisions by Triad school districts to return and then not return to school.

- I miss the socialization and seeing people face to face. That's been really hard, not being able to have that.

MICHELLE WOLF: The inconsistencies, psychiatrist Dr. Jason Jones explains, are taking a toll.

JASON JONES: Over the course of the last nine months, we've seen about a 50% increase in referrals [? to ?] services. The stress on parents, the stress on families, will trickle down to kids. And so if the parents are stressed, then the kids are gonna feel it.

MICHELLE WOLF: With ever-changing information on school reentry plans, Dr. Jones advises parents to stay calm around their kids--

JASON JONES: Try to shield your children from your stress. Try to present-- as much as you can, try to present a front of confidence and security and predictability. And try not to let them see how hard this is on you as well.

MICHELLE WOLF: --and plan how you're going to break the news to them, like Kim Bartlett, who has an 11-year-old son in the Guilford County School [? District. ?]

KIM BARTLETT: How do I tell him, how do I help him work through this, and how do I make it OK in a situation where it's really not OK?

MICHELLE WOLF: Kim, also a guidance counselor at Southern Guilford High School, has watched her son's attitude toward remote learning change over the last 10 months and worries the constant dejection is affecting his motivation.

KIM BARTLETT: [? We ?] are slowly seeing that love of school and of education dripping out of him because he's just so frustrated with the process. That is the number one thing that I hear from kids is, well, why did they say we could come back, and now we can't? And why did this happen? And I understand metrics change, and I understand that we want kids to be safe. That is our number one goal.

MICHELLE WOLF: As a school employee and parent, Kim tells Fox 8 she wishes the district would make one decision and stick to it so that staff and families can plan accordingly.

KIM BARTLETT: It stinks. And I'm mad, and I hate it. But this is something that I can't control. So how can we make this work? But I didn't say make it OK. It's not OK, necessarily. How can I make this work for what we need to do?

MICHELLE WOLF: Eighth-grader Allie Mahoney and sixth-grader Berkley Willis are looking to the bright side.

- I'm just hoping that we, like, at least get to finish up the year a little bit. Even a week would be nice to be able to go back.

- So this virus is eventually gonna be over, and we're all gonna have vaccines eventually. And once the school board decides it's safe for us to go, then, [? well, ?] we get to go back.

MICHELLE WOLF: In Greensboro, Michelle Wolf, Fox 8 News.