Easing of COVID restrictions in P.E.I. schools good for children’s mental health: Expert

‘The more children can play with each other and be natural with each other, the better it is for them’

Arturo Chang · CBC News · Posted: Aug 25, 2021 8:03 PM AT | Last Updated: August 26

Penn State University Prof. Mark Greenberg says families should try to reflect on what the pandemic meant for them. (CBC)

The easing of COVID-related restrictions across P.E.I. schools is set to have a positive impact on the mental well-being of children on the Island, a human development expert says. 

Penn State University Prof. Mark Greenberg says the province’s back-to-school plan is reasonable from a safety point of view and will help improve the mental health of children who’ve been greatly affected by the pandemic. The plan has received some backlash from people who say its guidelines are vague and too lenient.

“Given the low rate of cases in P.E.I., I think it’s a good idea,” Greenberg told CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin. “The more children can play with each other and be natural with each other, the better it is for them.

“As long as the cases stay low and given your incredibly high vaccination rate as a community, I think this is a well-reasoned decision.”

Time for reflection

Greenberg said that everyone has experienced some kind of trauma during the pandemic, and that it’s imperative for families and teachers to explore what this all means for schools.

“The kids are going to be excited to be back together again and I think they’re going to be excited not to have the restrictions,” he said. “But this is also a time for us to strengthen our relationship with parents. 

“The well-being of parents, teachers, administrators and children is all connected together.”

He said families should try to help their children take away some meaning out of what’s happened during the pandemic and reflect on their experience.

“Talking about how to cope with situations also will help us in the event that there are more situations in the future,” he said. 

“Having children express their feelings, the variety of feelings they felt — maybe some fun feelings about staying home and not having to go to school as well as missing their friends — all these feelings are something we should open up and give children time to express.”

LINK: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-back-to-school-plan-good-for-children-mental-health-1.6153536