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How to talk with your kids about bullying due to COVID-19

3News talked with experts about how to make sure your child feels safe discussing the pandemic

CLEVELAND — After making the tough decision to close all Willoughby-Eastlake schools for safety reasons, Superintendent Steve Thompson confirms he’s heard rumors of kids being bullied about having symptoms.

“To try to bully somebody into being quiet or submissive or covering it up, might get you out of that momentary situation, but it just furthers the spread of the virus,” says Thompson.

Amber Thomas, Crossroads Health Child and Adolescent Chief Clinical Officer says your child may be stressed and likely feeling some anxiety if they have symptoms or have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

RELATED: Willoughby-Eastlake closes all school buildings, suspends extracurricular activities after multiple students, teachers exposed to COVID-19

"So when you put this on top of it and bullying related to this it feels like they’re the only one in the world who has COVID -19. They’re the only ones in the world who has everybody mad at them. Then it starts to become more personal and (they think) maybe there’s something wrong with me,” says Thomas.

Superintendent Thompson says it’s a good idea to let your kids know that it’s required to report if you test positive and have to quarantine.

“It is absolutely not only the legal, but the ethically moral thing to do to report it to the school district,” says Thompson.

RELATED: Hundreds of students quarantined amid COVID-19 concerns at multiple Northeast Ohio schools

Other advice to help your child deal with potential bullying from COVID-19 or quarantining is to develop a reaction plan as a family.

“We can’t give you absolutes about this, but we understand that your scared and these are the steps were going to take to be okay,” says Thomas.

Lastly, explain that even the bullies are likely calling people out, because they’re nervous about COVID-19 .

“If I can blame somebody for this, then it’s another way of controlling it and kind of managing that anxiety,” says Thomas.

Thomas also advises parents to be mindful of what they say since kids overhear and may reflect everything from anxiety to gossiping about who may have it.