With the academic year underway, K-12 schools have resumed in-person learning. However, there is growing concern amongst parents, students, teachers, and faculty that reopenings come with a variety of safety and health risks. Threats of public violence, mental health concerns, uncertainty around the Delta variant, and more all stand in the way of educators having a successful school year.
A recent survey found that 57 percent of respondents are “extremely or very concerned” that a post-pandemic crisis could affect their safety or the safety of a loved one in a school environment. When combined with the knowledge that students are under significant mental health stress and that many younger learners are still unvaccinated, administrators should think carefully about how best to ensure a safe return to classrooms.
The key lies in putting tools, strategies, and policies in place today that ease concerns and minimize risk. By taking the proper steps, schools can focus on creating healthy learning environments for students rather than worrying about the safety challenges at hand.
Provide resources to support student mental health
Going into the 2021-2022 academic year, school administrators must acknowledge the elevated risk of mental health crises and violence on school grounds, especially after such an extended period of disruption. In fact, a Reuters survey found that nearly three-fourths of school districts surveyed witnessed “multiple indicators of increased mental health stresses among students” since the pandemic began. Many students have experienced significant isolation and even trauma over the last 18 months, and a full-time return to classroom learning may exacerbate mental health struggles.
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