PORTLAND, Ore. — The school year is about to start again and most kids will still be distance learning. As a result, they'll be missing out on important social interactions with their classmates.
Tonya Alexander is a mother of three, with one child going into the fourth grade and another entering seventh grade in the Beaverton School District. She said for the past few months her kids have not had much of a social life.
"I've definitely seen signs of depression," Alexander said. "More emotional, a lot of tears, a lot of being withdrawn."
She said she's so concerned about distance learning and social isolation, she found another alternative for her fourth grader.
"We switched out of public school and he will be attending an outdoor-based small private school where they actually will be able to meet in small groups, distanced, safe with masks of course and all of the protocols," Alexander said. "He will be able to interact with other kids."
Alexander said she's now focusing on her oldest child and trying to find good solutions for the isolation.
Amy Baker, a social worker for the Beaverton School District, said the district is working with teachers on how to help students during this time of distance learning.
"Some specific lessons and strategies on being very intentional about relationships," Baker said. "Spending more time than you might normally, doing a morning meeting or a check-in with your students. Making sure you are doing that more frequently."
Chelsea Mier, a child and family therapist, said the social isolation can be particularly challenging for young children.
"I've definitely heard from families concerned about the loneliness and isolation that kids might be feeling," Mier said. "Especially for the younger kids who might not understand that what is happening right now is a unique circumstance and life will go back to normal at some point."
Mier said parents just have to get a little creative, "whether it's in-person, socially distant safely or via Zoom or FaceTime platforms that allow kids to interact," she said.
Alexander said she does allow her children to have one or two of the same friends over from time to time. She said she allows it for the sake of their mental health.