Parenting through Covid: Going from remote learning to school classrooms

This week Dear Bernard’s guest columnist, Nasim Talebreza-May, looks how this school year has changed our ideas of school and parenting. 

While many schools were on Winter Holiday, Oregon’s Governor made a surprising announcement that she was relaxing the requirements around school closures due to the mental health and academic concerns facing children now “outweigh the short-term risk.” Although this statement did not result in the immediate opening of schools, it does draw attention to the stress that children and parents have been facing as they navigate the new realm of parent/teacher, child/student. Many parents feel isolated in this new role and overwhelmed on the demands for their time. 

We have heard about parents being faced with difficult decisions regarding balancing the care of their children with the demands of work and other responsibilities. This stress is further compounded for families who already faced economic stressors or health concerns as they faced additional challenges. One study, reported by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, found 48% of families reported a loss in regular childcare and found an 11% rise in food insecurity. Another study found, parents and children reported an increase in depressed mood. 


It is widely acknowledged that online learning is not the best method for elementary-aged children, in particular, to attend school. The American Psychological Association recently reported that online learning is missing a key ingredient, the social learning from peers that can inspire us to keep going and feel like we belong. Understanding that the sense of belonging is not identical for every child, it is to some degree important for every child. Understanding that it is not only their child that is not always motivated can give parents a sense of relief that they are not alone. In fact, talking to other peers and finding that others are also struggling can be helpful for both parents and children. The Center for Community Counseling is currently enrolling children and their parents for the support groups aimed at making this second semester more successful and less stressful. 

Although, it may seem that relief is just around the corner with schools finding ways to open safely to all students, the reality may not be so positive. Parents have for nearly a year struggled to make distant learning work for them and their families. And returning to school will be another period of transition. A transition in which families of different experiences within these last nine months come together with different comfort levels. For some children, the anxiety of the potential of getting sick may make the transition harder, while for others it is trying to re-establish bonds with friends, while others struggle to keep masks and distance 

Whether overcoming the difficulties of distance learning or transitioning back to the classroom, parents and children are not alone. Teachers are working hard to figure out how to teach your child during this unprecedented school year. Reaching out to teachers and discussing any struggles you might be experiencing will allow them to better support you and your child. School counselors and social workers are there to address any mental health concerns your child is experiencing so that they can be successful in the classroom. Outside of the school system, many local agencies are providing services to address the stressors that you or your children may be facing. 

Some of the symptoms that indicate a parent or child may need additional support are:

-Irritability or anger

-Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness

-Social withdrawal or fear of re-engaging with peers

-Increased sensitivity to rejection

-Changes in appetite or sleep

-Vocal outbursts or crying or seeming more sensitive

-Difficulty concentrating


Center for Community Counseling: // 541.344.0620 offers individual counseling to adults as well as groups for families during distance learning and school reintegration.

Parenting support: Parenting Now (; WellMama ( 

Emergency/suicide support: White Bird Clinic (; Hourglass Community Crisis Center (; CAHOOTS (non-emergency police line or Eugene or Springfield)

Nasim Talebreza-May, MSW, MBA, is clinical program manager at the Center for Community Counseling in Eugene. Talebreza-May and her husband live and work in Eugene, where they raise their children, and love to explore the local parks and hiking trails.



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