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How to talk to your child about COVID deaths among teachers, classmates

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 5:11 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - What do you do if a child’s teacher or classmate died due to COVID-19? What do parents say to ease the pain?

We talked with a child psychologist about how parents and guardians can handle these tough situations.

“I wouldn’t ignore it, but I definitely would say, I would take your child or adolescence lead on it,” said Dr. Michelle Martel, UK professor and child psychologist. “If they are not wanting to talk about it I wouldn’t push them to talk about it.”

Dr. Martel says children around age five process loss differently.

“Often express their feelings through play, so those kids may not talk much about it but you may notice something in their play that you may comment on,” said Dr. Martel.

When it’s time to have the hard talk.

“I would be direct and matter of fact,” said Dr. Martel. Ask them what would be helpful from you. Tell them however they are feeling is normal.”

According to teachers union KY 120, 60 students, faculty and staff from across Kentucky schools have died due to COVID-19.

Dr. Jeni Bolander is a union member and also a parent.

“I think just validating that, what they are going through and what they are feeling is real, is the best first step really having those conversations and connecting with your kids is always the most important thing you can do,” Dr. Bolander said.

That number of deaths has since increased by one.

Pulaski County 1st-grade teacher Stephanie Foster died from COVID-19 complications on Tuesday. She was 40 years old.

Dr. Martel says doing activities with your child, like writing messages about the deceased, helps the grieving process.

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