Articles/Trauma Sensitivity/Back To School In 2022

Tuesday, 19 February 2022

Linda-maree Conyard

I remember the days when it was so exciting to go back to school because I’d get all new books and pencils. New uniforms and school shoes. I loved that and I loved doing that with my kids. We are in a very different world today.

Whew, I’m so glad I don’t have children going back to school! A friend of mine shared an article on LinkedIn about how children may worry about returning to school despite safety measures. The safety measures referred to were the Victorian government’s back-to-school-plan. It says this plan will be in place for the first 4 weeks of Term 1 and may change as the term progresses.

Here’s a bit of a summary of how one state government system believes it is supporting children to return to school:

  • 3 Vs — Ventilation, Vaccination and Vital COVIDSafe steps including wearing masks, staying home when unwell, physical distancing, regular hygiene, and testing;
  • Rapid antigen testing — 14 million delivered to schools — cost $?;
  • Primary & secondary staff and students have twice-a-week testing on school days is strongly recommended;
  • Specialist school students and staff — strongly recommended testing each school day;
  • Ventilation — delivering 51,000 air purifiers to schools by 31 Jan ($7.5 million);
  • COVID Safe measures in kindergarten services ($7.4 million);
  • Vaccination — Staff required to be vaccinated, more than 90% of children aged 12 & over are now vaccinated and roll-out of vaccinations for children 5–11 through state vaccination hubs, and pop-up school vaccination sites;
  • Rules around staff vaccinations;
  • Enhanced support to keep schools open and safe — extra staff to step in when essential staff are unable to work, extra planning & support for school leadership, remote learning is only considered as a localized, short term, last resort option;
  • When I read all of this I wondered, is this what people are really worried about? I would love to hear your experiences of what your concerns are about your children or if you’re a teacher your concerns about returning to school.

Here’s what I think is going on based on what I’m hearing:

  • Staff shortages. Teachers will have lost colleagues due to the introduction of the change in employment contracts that now enforce mandatory vaccination. Potential additional pressure on teachers that are able to work. Teachers (and many others in various workplaces) lost their livelihoods. Do teachers who have a job feel bad for their friends who don’t (it may not be in their consciousness whether they do or don’t). The emotional cost of this trauma — $ Unable to determine!
  • Fear of others. This relates to adults and children. We have been trained throughout these last few years to not trust others anymore or to be scared of others. If there is fear it is hard to learn or teach. The societal cost of this trauma — $ Unable to determine!
  • The goalposts move a bit too often for people to keep up with what’s the current messaging. Psycho-emotional cost of this on our society — Unable to determine at this point.
  • If children and parents or teachers are anxious, I imagine fear and a lack of trust that exists.

In my opinion as a trauma therapist and a transgenerational therapist, I see this whole experience we have all been travelling in as a repeat of unresolved collective transgenerational trauma.

As a collective, we have all gone through a traumatic event which within this experience has been many smaller traumatic events. We have been conditioned not to trust our neighbours, friends, and family. Medical apartheid has split our society. For me, it is so multi-layered.

I have some questions about the expectations of school staff to manage the return to school this year.

  • ​Do school staff recognize trauma and the symptoms of trauma?
  • Are staff aware to what level this experience over the last number of years has affected them personally?
  • Do they know what the symptoms of trauma are?
  • Do they know how to help students and colleagues if they notice the symptoms of trauma?

Unless they have done some specific training in trauma sensitivity, I suspect that these professionals do not have this level of awareness. None of us do until we are met by something that draws our attention to trauma. We are currently experiencing that something!

If you'd like to see if you have any symptoms of trauma, please go ahead and take my Trauma Quiz.

If nothing else my hope is that there is an understanding that every single person whether it be a student, parent, or teacher has had an experience of trauma.

If you are interested in learning how to become a trauma-sensitive professional or if your school would like to have this training delivered as professional development, please book a 30 min Connect Call.

I wish all educational professionals all the very best for the beginning of this school year. Remember to take care of yourselves as you navigate yet another challenging time. I encourage you to seek the support you may need. I’m thinking of you all. And if I can help in any way please reach out, I am here for you.

May 2022 be kind to humanity.

Linda ♡

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