LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — With the kids sitting in a classroom Monday morning for the first time in a long time, teachers will be the first line of defense if they notice anything wrong with their students.
And the Clark County School District says it is taking steps to address mental trauma in children by providing care and resources at the first sign of trouble.
“Do you mind staying after class for just a minute?”
A teacher comforting a student after a loss in her family. It’s a situation that’s played out all over the country during this pandemic. This is all part of a training video identifying trauma in students. It’s what all CCSD teachers have watched.
“They are the ones that get to see the kids the most. So, they have the most opportunities to build relationships with students,' Jessica Shearin said.
Shearin is a school psychologist with the district. She says the pandemic has highlighted the various trauma students have been going through, like turmoil at home. This could result in a change in behavior during class.
“So, if a kid looks bubbly and excited before and suddenly, they’re quiet and reserved. That should be a red flag that something has changed,” she said.
Shearin says connecting with students about their pandemic anxieties is an important way to help them open up.
“They’re living through it and they see it. Even though they may not be able to have an adult conversation about the pandemic, or family members they may have lost. They experienced it and they need to process the information,” she said.
Vicki Kreidel, a second-grade teacher at Heard Elementary School has seen first-hand how the fear of the virus has affected her kids.
“You see happening in front of you, and then you see the fear in their eyes, because these kids are old enough, especially if someone in your family already had it,” she said.
Kreidel says there are ways to help students like hers decompress from whatever is going on at home.
“You can teach the kids mindfulness. You can teach the kids how to focus and take a breath and give them some strategies to be able to deal with school,” she said.
Kreidel says teachers can play a role but believes there should be more investment CCSD on having more mental health resources.
“We have got to prioritize spending on staff to ensure we have more resources like our wonderful counselor in our school to help us, help our kids,” she said.
Shearin says the pandemic has shown schools provide needed resources in the community with mental health near the top of the list.
“We can have a broader conversation about how schools are really important, really critical components of a community,” she said.
Parents are encouraged to reach out to teachers or counselors if they feel their kid needs help. They can also call 211 to find available resources.