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Don't want the hassles of Black Friday - consider a refurbished gift this year; day after Thanksgiving travel could be messy - and supporters regroup for recreational marijuana in South Dakota.


Big retailers predict an historic holiday shopping season, but small businesses are not sharing that optimism, and economists weigh in on what s behind the nation's labor shortages.


South Dakota foster kids find homes with Native families; a conservative group wants oil and gas reform; rural Pennsylvania residents object to planes flying above tree tops; and poetry debuts to celebrate the land.

Experts: Back-to-School List Should Include Well-Being Awareness


Thursday, August 12, 2021   

MADISON, Wis. -- The school year is fast approaching, and many Wisconsin students will be headed back to the classroom for the first time in a while, prompting reminders about ensuring they are able to handle the transition.

Whether it was all distance learning or a hybrid situation, students are returning after a year with plenty of isolation. Wisconsin's Office of Children's Mental Health said it is important for parents and educators to help kids rebuild peer connections.

Kate McCoy, research analyst for the Office, said while there is concern about making up for lost learning time, the social factor shouldn't be forgotten.

"We also know that learning happens in relationships and in communities," McCoy pointed out. "For both right away, the immediate needs, and long term, kids really need those strong adult and peer connections to thrive."

For parents, she suggested arranging playdates with other kids as their child heads back to school. Educators were encouraged to hold classroom discussions about individual experiences and coping strategies.

Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare Employer and Individual, said parents should check in regularly with kids, listening and watching for even subtle changes in their mood or behavior.

She noted the importance of supporting and validating kids' feelings if they are anxious or upset.

"One of the things that we talk about is sharing that we go through it as adults, too, and how we deal with stress," Randall explained. "The older you get, the more practice and experience you have dealing with that. So letting your kids know that it's something that all humans experience, even their parents."

She added families should help children be prepared to be flexible about school disruptions, with COVID-19 variants still a concern.

McCoy advised keeping kids informed about what is happening with the pandemic is important, but too much exposure to concerning news is not ideal, especially for younger students.

"They just need to know, 'This is what the school's doing now. This is what's happening today, this is the routine, and that everybody's on-board,'" McCoy recommended.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in-person learning for fall 2021 is a priority and offered resources for talking to kids about COVID-19.

Disclosure: United Healthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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