An invitation from Gordon's psychologist
Dear Gordon Families,
In these unprecedented times, while we all work through the physical and emotional challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to reach out directly to the Gordon community to introduce—or perhaps reintroduce—myself and make sure you are aware that I am available to support you in your family’s transition back to school this fall.
Along with the Gordon administration and faculty, I am eager to see your child back on campus under conditions that are safe and where controllable risks are mitigated. I have witnessed and participated first hand in the tremendous efforts and advance planning that Gordon has undertaken in these regards. I am confident that Gordon has and will continue to take all necessary and prudent precautions.
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting some of our new families on Zoom. For those of you whom I have not met, I am eager to connect. As Gordon’s consulting psychologist, I continue to work closely with teachers and division directors to ensure that children are receiving the support they need. As always, your family’s social and emotional wellbeing is my central concern.
Starting school or starting a new school year can be stressful during even normal times, let alone during a global pandemic. I recognize that mental health needs have increased over the last several months and I anticipate a range of emotional and behavioral reactions from children and families as we return to campus.
For example, children may feel nervous or reluctant to return to campus, especially after learning at home for months. Children like certainty and routines. Previewing and providing a sense of what to expect when they get to campus will help to reduce stress and anxiety. Before campus reopens, the school will provide you and your child several opportunities to have these conversations, as your child Zooms with their teacher, parents Zoom with one another, and families come to campus for a dropoff and pickup.
In the meantime, I suggest that you practice handwashing, wearing masks as a family—trust me, it takes some getting used to!— and talking about the importance of physical distancing. Reassure your children that these safety measures will be in place at Gordon to keep students and teachers healthy. For our youngest children, keeping explanations in simple terms is usually more effective. I would also suggest talking to your children about their thoughts and feelings about returning to school amid potential changes. Also, it is important to remind your children about the positives of returning: that they will be able to see their friends and teachers and continue learning new things.
In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me if you have particular concerns about your families reentry to school. I am happy to set up a Zoom meeting or phone call. I will also be facilitating Ages and Stages Zoom
gatherings with the division directors. These grade level gatherings will begin in September to check in on how you and your children are adjusting and to answer any concerns that arise.
In addition, I have compiled a list of resources on navigating your child’s social and emotional wellbeing during this time, which can be accessed at www.gordonschool.org/jgnys with the password Gordon. I continue to update this resource page on a regular basis.
Judith A. Gnys Ph.D.