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As KCS moves to virtual learning, experts urge parents to be alert for mental health changes

While some students have been already been enrolled in virtual learning, others will be seeing a big change in their routine.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Starting Monday, all Knox County Schools will be going virtual as COVID-19 cases rise. They'll return in-person after the winter break.

While some students have already been enrolled in virtual learning, others will see a big change in their routine.

Students were almost done with the semester when another change came their way. They'll be going virtual for a week. But with winter break afterward, parents could still see a mental health change in their child. 

"For kids, it's a tough scenario to keep up with," said Ben Harrington with the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee. 

He said social connection is imperative, and that any way kids can connect with their friends is a good thing.

"Is it a gaming situation?" he said. "Where you can game online with a buddy or is it through zoom? We don't want a lack of communication."

As COVID-19 cases in the county rise, connecting with others outside families' homes gets difficult. However, officials said that a zoom or phone call with friends keeps the connection. 

"We have seen an increase in anxiety overall just because students at any level respond to routine and predictability," said Lindsay Stone with the McNabb Center. 

She urges parents to watch out for changes in character, such as daily living habits or hygiene. She also said to watch out for any changes related to school.

Checking in regularly and assuring students along the way can make a big difference, experts said.

Parents who have had students virtual all semester recommend setting up workspaces near each other if possible to be there as questions arise especially for students with learning disabilities. 

With holidays just weeks away, Stone said that can also add stress. 

"Holidays are not always a positive thing for all our students," he said.

Whether it's extra stress in the home, or lack of resources when they're not in the school environment. 

The McNabb Center urges parents to seek treatment or information sooner rather than later. You can reach them at 1-800-255-9711 or online.


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