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Well-being and Connection During COVID-19
Student and Staff Wellness
In this time where physical distancing and remote education has become necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, social connection is more important than ever.
We know it is crucial for our students and staff to feel connected to a supportive community to help support their well-being. We know that creating and maintaining these relationships via remote learning is a new challenge for educators to meet.
With this in mind, we have compiled a few ideas and resources to assist educators in this effort. While the Colorado Department of Education does not endorse the external resources linked on this page, we have included them here to help you begin the process of identifying and evaluating resources that are right for your school community.
Ideas for How to Meaningfully Connect Remotely
- Send weekly or daily email blasts to students and families. Video messages can enhance the sense of connection as well.
- Build a virtual classroom journal, website or blog with daily prompts to which students can respond.
- Establish office hours where students can call (either by telephone or virtually) a trusted adult such as a teacher, counselor or other staff.
- For secondary schools, consider using the teachers' first classes as the way to organize students for the day's activities, such as setting goals and intentions.
- Set up daily or weekly meetings or advisories to establish a time to connect with a group of students.
- Moderate a classroom chat or discussion board.
- Record and share video or audio clips with your students to send important announcements, resources and celebrations (e.g. birthdays).
- Attend a virtual field trip as a community:
Ideas for How to Attend to Student and Staff Well-being
Maintain Staff/Student Relationships:
- Student relationships are key to maintain in this environment to encourage academic engagement, emotional stability and help ensure that students return for the coming academic year.
- Staff also need to build and maintain relationships with one another that allows for collaboration, idea sharing and emotional support during this unprecedented time.
- As possible, while ensuring protected personally identifiable information (PII) is not shared, enable students to connect with each other.
Create a Sense of Belonging and Connection for Students and Staff:
- A strong sense of connection is necessary to creating positive social, emotional, behavioral and academic outcomes. It meets basic human needs of building social bonds and feeling cared about and is possible to do virtually with all of the tools and resources available.
Attend to the Social and Emotional Needs of Students, Staff and Parents:
- As the country and the world respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19), people are feeling a range of emotions – fear, anxiety, stress and uncertainty. Social-emotional learning offers a powerful means to explore and express our emotions, build relationships and support each other – children and adults alike – during this challenging time.
Emphasize Respect, Safety and Community:
- With reports of harassment and bullying of specific races and nationalities increasing due to misconceptions about COVID-19, it is important to teach and reinforce respectful behavior and to take time to correct misconceptions and misstatements as they occur. Additionally, it is important that students and staff feel safe in whatever remote platform, communication tool, etc. is being used.
- Monitor cyberbullying and create a space for reporting of harassment and bullying.
Monitor Students and Develop a Process for Those Who are Struggling:
- Check in with students and create a simple referral process for teachers to report any students who are in need of additional mental health, wrap around, behavior or academic supports.
- Encourage the use of student support staff (social workers, school counselors, deans, administrators) to reach out to students through online means or by phone.
Practice Mindfulness with Students and Staff:
- Mindfulness is beneficial as it calms the mind and allows participants to be in touch with their thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. It is surprisingly easy to practice virtually and is just as effective.
Considerations for Connecting Remotely
- Not all students have the same access to internet and devices. Inventory who has access and find alternative ways to reach students who do not have access. For example, reach out via phone to students who cannot access information online.
- Your district/school may have preferred online platforms and tools or may have policies against the use of specific platforms and tools. Check on any guidance or restrictions with your district before using a platform or tool.
- Protect student privacy. See FERPA, the Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act (PDF).
- Explore CDE's COVID-19 Resources for Schools