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Well-being and Connectedness

Overview

In this time where physical distancing and remote education may be necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, deliberate planning to remain socially connected 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 and academic growth. The options throughout this section provide considerations for both in-person and remote learning environments.


While the Colorado Department of Education does not endorse the external resources linked on this page, we have included them here to help you identify and evaluate resources for your school community. For a more in depth tools and resources on this topic, please visit: Colorado Education Initiative’s Strategic Reopening Collaborative Toolkit and the Healthy Schools Hub.

 


Consideration: Ideas to think about as you make your own decisions.

 

  • Consider asking families about their needs connected to social-emotional wellbeing. Adams 12 School District provided a family Social-Emotional Wellbeing Assessment to assist their parents, and CDE is thankful to them for allowing it to be included in the CDE toolkit -  Westlake Middle School, Adams 12 School District, Social-Emotional Wellbeing Assessment.

  • Check in with students and create a simple referral process for teachers to report any students who are in need of additional support.

  • Consider training for staff on how to identify signs of struggle in students and establish a clear referral process.

  • Encourage the use of student support staff (school counselors, deans, administrators, librarians) to reach out to students through online means, by phone, or in person in alignment with state and local health guidance.

  • Provide consistency in daily routines to reduce stress and promote positive learning conditions.

  • Students may have challenging home environments, and this could greatly affect their performance during online learning. At-home learning will also make it difficult for students to report or teachers to assess students for abuse, which is usually done at schools.

  • Consider setting up regular remote one-on-one visual check ins to assess physical as well as social/emotional well-being of both students and staff working and learning remotely.

  • These uncertain times mean that the mental health needs of students and staff may increase. Taking the time to cultivate well-being can be especially beneficial for students with less access to healthcare. Consider incorporating activities such as virtually-instructed meditation and yoga into the school schedule to give students and staff some relief from the daily stress.

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Consideration: Ideas to think about as you make your own decisions.

  • Build and maintain trusting relationships between staff and students to encourage academic engagement and stability. 

  • Communicate regularly with the school community (i.e., announcements, emails, online meetings) to promote a sense of community and belonging.

  • Encourage student voice by inviting students to contribute to the rules for your school and classrooms and providing space for student-led learning. Since classrooms may be different in 2020-21 from students’ previous experiences in schools, this will be even more important this year.

  • Create opportunities for staff to build and maintain relationships with one another that allow for collaboration, idea sharing and support during this unprecedented time.

  • Help each student engage in school and find purpose/meaning in their learning. 

  • Provide consistency in daily routines to reduce stress and promote positive learning conditions.

  • Create space in classrooms or online that will allow for students to emotionally regulate where students can have some alone time or space from others. 

  • Conduct check-in calls with students and families with the support of staff, including advisory/homeroom teachers and other staff. 

  • 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.

  • How we discipline students creates opportunities for students to feel connected or rejected from their classroom or school communities. If discipline actions are instituted for students who do not follow safety protocols, be sure to pay attention to equity and implicit bias. Research shows that students of color are disproportionately disciplined and more harshly punished than their peers for the same violation.

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Consideration: Ideas to think about as you make your own decisions.

Ideas for How to Attend to Your Community

In this unprecedented time of upheaval and uncertainty, many students, parents and educators are understandably anxious and worried. Fear about the new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in children and adults. In addition, public actions such as physical distancing can make people feel isolated and lonely. Finding ways to help communities cope with stress in a healthy way is important. 

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