- The pandemic has caused a sharp increase in mental health and behavioral problems in children and adolescents who have been forced to lose personal learning.
- Keeping kids in school should be a top priority, and using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Test-To-Stay tool is a good way to do that.
- Even if children remain in the classroom in the future, parents and schools must find new and innovative ways to provide comfort and stability to students who may struggle.
As schools try to stay open during the pandemic, some students are struggling to adjust to in-person learning after months of isolation.
School disruptions have led to a sharp increase in mental health and behavioral issues among young adults, leaving parents and schools scrambling to find new ways to help students navigate ever-changing routines in exceptionally stressful environments.
Some high schools, especially those located in disadvantaged areas, have seen increased rates of violence among students amid the pandemic. During the fall of last year, Southwood High School in Shreveport, Louisiana experienced such a violent week that 23 students were arrested in just three days, according to CBS News.
After that week, some parents came together to create Dads On Duty (DOD), a group of parents and community leaders who take turns spending time at school to promote a positive environment.
Defense Department’s Craig Lee told Fairwell that negative influences in society and popular culture, a lack of positive role models, and the instability of the pandemic created a “perfect storm” that led to a week of intense violence last year.
Lee devoted his life to empowering primarily disadvantaged youth in the African American community. He said that parents greet students in the morning, walk around the school corridors to interact with them, share positive affirmations, and even tell dad jokes. The guys are there to give ears or give advice when students are having difficulty.
While this may sound simple, the firm and relaxed presence of parents has been transformative for students who lack positive adult role models in their lives.
“Negative has now turned into positive energy and there were no more gang fights in the establishment,” he said.
He told me that thanks to the initiative’s success, there are plans to expand the program to other communities and age groups, in addition to offering a number of other services and programs to empower young people to be their best.
A ‘survival test’ keeps students in school
Schools have to enhance routine and expectations when in-person learning is disrupted by quarantine, according to Ashley Redfern, CEO of American Paradigm Schools, a charter management nonprofit organization that supports and serves four independent schools in Philadelphia.
“We see students in second grade who have some of the same behaviors that we expect to see from incoming kindergarten students, such as challenges related to the ability to follow directions, take turns in conversations, and complete tasks throughout the day,” Redfern told Verywell. .
She said the instability that students face also manifests itself in the form of occasional aggression as well as peer conflicts and defiance.
Omicron Impulsivity is expected to have a significant impact on students due to the possibility of having to switch between virtual learning and in-person education. It could also create significant recruitment challenges, she added.
To minimize learning loss and absenteeism, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using survival testing practices to help keep students safe in school throughout the pandemic.
This strategy includes “promoting the vaccination of students and eligible staff, requiring everyone 2 years of age or older to wear a mask within schools and facilities, maintain at least 3 feet of distance between students, screen test, ventilate, wash hands, and stay home when sick.” ,” according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The agency also recommends that everyone 5 years and older get the COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against the virus, and those 12 and older should get a booster dose at least five months after the initial series.
One APS school adopted a survival testing strategy, which allowed for faster identification of positive cases within the school and rapid testing of students.
Redfern added that another school was testing the pool by selecting students and staff to be tested daily and using the results to extrapolate the number of potential cases within the school, which was useful in determining whether there was a community spread within the school.
“Both processes have allowed schools and classrooms to remain open and provide the personalized learning we know students need,” she said.
Schools provide safe space and resources for students
Fatima Watt, PsyD, vice president and director of behavioral health services at Franciscan Children’s, told Verywell that the loss of structure and access to peer support has been profound for students and contributes to many mental health and developmental problems.
“Children and teens need consistency and routine to function well, and it can be very difficult to maintain this when the school is closed,” Watt said. “Peer support interactions are critical for students of all ages, and isolation from peers due to distance learning can contribute to loneliness, sadness, low self-esteem, and depression.”
She added that schools should be proactive in reaching students who have withdrawn or who appear to be struggling. Providing resources such as counseling is essential to ensuring the academic and personal success of students during the pandemic.
Redfern said APS faculty has been holding student meetings to talk about their feelings and challenges. Providing access to breakfast and lunch at school also supports those who may be food insecure at home.
“Our goal is to help students mingle with each other through academic and social topics,” she said. “Every single day is a race to give as much love and learning as possible.”
What does this mean for you
If you’re a parent or work in a school, you’ve probably noticed that kids struggle more than usual because of disruptive routines and personalized learning. It is important that you do everything possible to keep children in school as long as it is safe, and schools and parents can also be creative when it comes to finding ways to help students feel comfortable and safe.
The information in this article is current as of the date mentioned, which means that more recent information may be available when you read this. For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit the Coronavirus news page.