Some students will need additional support to help them readjust to life at school, according to the Psychological Society of Ireland.
However, the nature of the support needed to help some students manage the transition from being at home to being back at school will vary according to individual needs.
“Existing care and special education systems can be used to identify, monitor, and support these students on an ongoing basis,” says the PSI.
Potentially vulnerable groups include children and young people who experienced bereavement during the pandemic.
Some children and young people experienced significant personal or family stress caused by unemployment and other pressures because of the public health restrictions.
Also, those who experience social anxieties may find that the sudden increase in social demands on them is very challenging.
The PSI has produced a guide to help school staff, both primary and post-primary as schools prepare to reopen for the 2020/21 school year.
PSI & @PSIDOEP issue guidance document to aid primary & post-primary school staff as schools prepare to reopen for 2020/21 term. Guidance doc provides advice to school staff supporting students in the transition back to school. To view, click here: https://t.co/yoD8vhTyt6 pic.twitter.com/5NlvHY9BvZ— Psychological Society of Ireland (@PsychSocIreland) July 30, 2020
Calledit was developed by PSI educational psychologists with school staff as well as pupils in mind.
The advice provided by the PSI takes into account the preparation that staff need to undertake before the beginning of the new school year.
The PSI says: “It is essential that staff wellbeing is prioritised at a strategic and systems level, and that measures be put in place to foster physical and mental wellbeing among staff members. These staff members are vital in re-establishing the school community which will foster well being and resilience of students.”
However, while creating a calm, supportive environment, it is also important to reflect on the pandemic and restrictions.
"It is likely that many students are looking forward to returning to school and will transition back with few problems.
PSI president, Mark Smyth, says a return to school in September is likely to be a significant source of anxiety for pupils, parents and educators.
He says: “In the PSI we hope that this guidance document will support everyone concerned with finding a good enough way to manage the uncertainty that may be experienced."
Children will need time to adjust to the structure of school and the PSI stresses that communication with parents is paramount.
“This may be a good opportunity to strengthen the relationships between schools and families,” it sayss.
“Feeling safe, for all of us, will be essential to a successful relaunch. If teachers feel safe and present a cautious confidence, then children are more likely to feel safe too.”
The guide also emphasises the need to promote hope — a key element in building resilience.
“Hope gives us energy and drive; it allows us to be positive and cheerful, and to believe that things will go well and might even be better."