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Report: Around 87% of public schools sees student emotional development impacted by pandemic

Around 87% of public schools across the U.S. said the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted socio-emotional development among students.

BRISTOL, Va. — It's the start of the school year for many districts in the Tri-Cities, but as teachers and students head back into the classrooms, there's also increased concern about student behavior.

Around 87% of public schools reported the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted student socio-emotional development -- that's according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Dr. Keith Perrigan, Superintendent of Bristol, Virginia Schools told News 5 he has noticed a change in some students in his district.

"Especially for some of the students that we had during the first year of COVID who were remote, coming back, the socialization skills were lacking," he said.

Dr. Tim Perry, Senior Vice President for Children's Services at Frontier Health, said the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an unprecedented need for mental health services.

"One of the biggest things we saw was an increase in self-harm and suicidal ideations," he said.

That has led Bristol, Virginia Schools to add more behavioral specialist positions -- and Perrigan says socialization may be a bigger issue than learning loss.

"I don't really like school," said a middle school student in the Bristol area. "I'm going to a new school, so I don't really have any friends."

Dr. Perry stresses teachers should be on the lookout for students dealing with depression and anxiousness.

"I think the root of a lot of this, is trauma," he said. "This was a traumatic experience for everyone, but especially for kids."

To learn about mental health resources offered by Frontier Health, click here.

This story was originally reported by WCYB.

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