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Spokane behavioral health expert: Kids will need ‘safe space’ to cope with virtual learning

Seattle students learning from home during the spring. (Natasja Billiau via AP)

As your kids go back to school remotely, experts say that it’s more important than ever to talk to them about how they’re feeling.

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That’s the advice of the director of Spokane’s Frontier Behavioral Health program, Aly Gibson, who emphasizes the importance of creating spaces where children are comfortable sharing their feelings.

“I think it’s really important that we create this safe space for our kids to be able to have conversations, to be able to think on ‘how am I doing emotionally?'” Gibson said during an online briefing.

Gibson says kids are extremely social beings. Since most won’t be attending school in person, it’s vital to find ways for them to appropriately connect outside the classroom, while ensuring that they have all the resources they need to effectively learn from afar.

“Talk with your kids about what’s going on — how are you going to learn? How are you going to do your homework? Do you need a space in the house? All the logistics of distance learning,” Gibson said.

She suggests outdoor meetings with friends, while wearing masks and practicing social distancing. Gibson also suggests Zoom meetings with their closest friends.

Are your kids ready for remote learning?

“Youth are incredibly social beings, so not going back to school in person is going to impact them,” she noted.

As classes begin to resume, Gov. Jay Inslee’s office has urged most schools in Washington state to consider enacting distance learning when school resumes in the fall due to the high rate of COVID-19 community transmission in many counties. This was only a recommendation, not a legally binding requirement.

Inslee also separated counties into three categories — high risk, moderate risk, and low risk — in terms of what the plan for in-person classes should be in the fall based on risk. Inslee “strongly” recommended distance learning for students at every level in high-risk counties.

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