- Teacher and school personnel
- To provide appropriate support to and identification of cases of concerns by school personnel for providing support to children and adolescent after school closure
During the COVID-19 epidemic, children and adolescents may have gone through multiple unsettling and painful feelings and experiences; they, their siblings, parents, friends may have been directly affected by the disease and the restricting procedures to treat or contain the outbreak. They may have experienced prolonged isolation, at home or in medical wards.
When children and adolescents return to school after protracted school closure, it may be difficult for them to resume their normal routine and education activities. They may still carry painful feelings, including loss and grief; they may struggle to concentrate and pay sustained attention.
When CHILDREN come back to school, they may appear:
- Sleepy, as they may have difficulties at sleeping or having frequent nightmares
- Scared, alerted, manifesting fears
- Irritable, aggressive with peers and adults
- Getting distracted often/easily and drop in school performance
- Complaining about pain in stomach or headache
- Starting to behave younger as they really are
- Clinging, including to teacher, depending behaviours
- Decreased interest in playing and engaging in playful activities
- Being sad, crying more than usual or for no apparent reason
ADOLESCENTS may show:
- Difficulties in completing tasks and concentrating, drop in school performance
- Decreased motivation in learning, engaging in talks and sharing
- Being withdrawn, seeking for isolation
- Heightened irritability, rejection of rules and aggressive behaviours
- Losing hope for the future, disillusionment
- Feelings of guilt or unfairness
- Increased worries concerning safety and the epidemic
WHAT CAN TEACHERS, THE SCHOOL MANAGEMENT AND PERSONNEL NEED TO KNOW:
- These are common and very normal responses of children and adolescents who have been through painful or stressful events.
- Teachers have a critical role to play as role models and source of support and active listening for children and adolescents, during and after stressful and painful events.
- Teachers can quickly be trained on Psychological First Aid to be able to adequately support students in distress.
WHAT TEACHERS, THE SCHOOL MANAGEMENT AND PERSONNEL CAN DO:
- Promote a supportive learning environment, as it is key to help children and adolescents gradually release the tension and painful feelings and overcome distress, grief and loss.
- Properly read children’s behaviors and feelings and offer active listening and comfort as needed.
- Prioritize support to the psychosocial wellbeing and coping strategies of students, over learning outcomes, in situation where children and adolescents appear distressed.
- Be able to recognise signs of severe distress and actively engage with caregivers to share concerns related to children’s wellbeing and capacity of recovery.
- When there are concerns related to imminent threats to the safety of a child (e.g. an adolescent attempting suicide, cases of domestic violence and violations/abuse/exploitations, etc.), teachers are responsible to inform the school management and immediately alert appropriate service providers (such as social workers).
- For psychosocial support, please call Transcultural Psychosocial Organization Cambodia (TPO Cambodia) hotline number: 017 222 372 / 089 666 325 / 097 9111 918. TPO Cambodia’s Facebook: facebook.com/tpocambodia