The Weekly Connect 10/26/20

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

Civil rights data from the U.S. Department of Education shows increases in sexual assault and in the use of seclusion and restraint to discipline students who have disabilities.

Boston Public Schools suspends in-person learning.

During the pandemic, overeating and inactivity could lead to increased rates of childhood obesity.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

SEL Programs Benefit from Partnerships, Adults’ Skills
Education Dive: Social-emotional learning programs can benefit from adults’ knowledge of their own social-emotional learning (SEL) skills, according to a recent report from the RAND Corp. and the Wallace Foundation. The report, based on 5,000 surveys of school and after-school program staff, as well as 850 additional interviews and thousands of observations, also found effective SEL supports benefited from a shared vision of SEL skill development. However, effective out-of-school-time (OST) partnerships, which the report says “have a lot of potential” to help students’ SEL development, face structural and logistical barriers like high staff turnover.

Ed Dept Civil Rights Data Shows Restraint, Seclusion, Sexual Assault on the Rise
Education Dive: A bevy of statistics about school enrollment, discipline practices, academic offerings and more from the 2017-18 school year was released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights as part of the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) biennial survey. The self-reported collection from 97,632 public schools across the country is used by school, district and state education systems to measure trends and plan for improvements. Key findings include: students with disabilities are disproportionately restrained and secluded; K-12 sexual violence has increased 55%; efforts to improve data quality are underway; and the pandemic is impacting the next scheduled collection.


Boston Public Schools Suspend In-Person Learning for All Students
CBS Boston: Boston Public Schools recently announced that it is suspending all in-person learning for students due to rising coronavirus numbers. This comes after an announcement a few days prior that Boston would begin Phase-3 in-person learning at the end of October. This new announcement means that all students will learn remotely until there are two full weeks of falling infection rates. Only high needs students are currently learning in the classroom as of Wednesday. The rest of the students are already learning remotely. There are approximately 3,500 high needs students in Boston schools. See related article: N.P.R. “Are the Risks of Reopening Schools Exaggerated? 

Texas Budget Cuts to Children’s Therapy Programs Flouted Special Education Guidelines, U.S. Officials Say
The Texas Tribune: Texas has failed to ensure that children with developmental delays have early access to speech and occupational therapy and other services, according to a letter ​written by U.S. education officials who say the state is not complying with federal special education guidelines. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has three months to draw up a plan to ensure that a program that pays for infants and toddlers to receive such early intervention therapies is reaching all eligible Texans, federal officials wrote. Failure to do so could cost the state federal funding.

What Does a District Court Ruling Mean for Future Right-to-Education Cases?
Education Dive: A Rhode Island District Court judge dismissed Cook v. Raimondo, a prominent right-to-education case in which plaintiffs — who ranged from preschoolers to high school students — sued Rhode Island Education Commissioner Ken Wagner and the state Board of Education. Plaintiffs argued the state failed to provide an education that adequately prepared students to participate in civic life. Defendants argued the Constitution does not guarantee a right to education. While Judge William E. Smith ruled in favor of the Education Commissioner and the Board, among other state leaders, he said the case “highlights a deep flaw in our national education priorities and policies” and hoped “others who have the power to address this need will respond appropriately.” See related article: The New York Times “How Rhode Island Reopened Schools.”

Around the Nation

The ‘Enrichment Gap’ is Widening. Students’ Social-Emotional Development is at Risk.
EdSurge: Approximately 70% of afterschool care and enrichment providers, most operating through schools, shuttered due to the pandemic, and most summer camps were cancelled, according to the National Afterschool Association. Scores of low-income youth, who have relied on these organizations for technology access and vital emotionally and academically supportive relationships, have been cut off. This enrichment gap was growing well before the pandemic. Upper-income households have been investing more in their children’s extracurricular activities in the U.S. every year, at a rate that outpaces in-school learning. Wealthy families’ annual per-child expenditures on enrichment activities nearly tripled between 1972 and 2006 (from $3,536 to $8,872) while low-income families remained stagnant at around $1,000.

The Kids Aren’t Alright: COVID-19 -Fueled Stress Eating, Inequalities, Lack of Fitness Expected to Boost Obesity, Experts Say
USA Today: Pediatricians and public health experts predict a potentially dramatic increase in childhood obesity this year as months of pandemic eating, closed schools, stalled sports and public space restrictions extend indefinitely. About one in seven children have met the criteria for childhood obesity since 2016, a recent report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found. Though the percentage of children considered obese declined slightly in the past 10 years, it is expected to jump in 2020. The trend, seen in pediatric offices, is especially concerning as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week expanded its definition of those at elevated risk of severe COVID-19 disease and death to include people with a body mass index of 25 to 30. 

How Some California School Districts Deal with Students Absent from Virtual Classrooms
EdSource: Both Oakland and West Contra Costa track attendance based on student participation in online lessons, as well as work turned in online. They have implemented plans for following up on absences that include calls, emails and letters home to families, as well as other outreach and support that intensifies the longer students are absent, such as home visits with a translator. Both districts are building community partnerships to offer “learning hubs” on non-school sites such as the city’s DeFremery Recreation Center in West Oakland, where high-needs students can participate in remote learning in environments that comply with state safety guidelines. These do not replace district instruction, but they provide a safe place with Wi-Fi. See related article: VT Digger “When Students Don’t Show up on Zoom, Some Educators go Knocking on Doors.” 

Thousands of Boston Public School Students Cut Off From Dental Care
Boston Globe:When school closed suddenly in March, Boston students not only lost the daily connection to teachers and learning, but dental services that the city’s most vulnerable children depend on for critical care. That has left nearly 4,000 Boston public school students without an opportunity to see a dentist or hygienist in school this academic year, practitioners say, a significant concern given the strong correlation between poor oral health and learning loss and the risk of chronic illnesses. In recent decades, schools across the city and country have helped establish a public health safety net for the most vulnerable students, partnering with eye doctors, dentists, and physical therapists to provide essential services to students during the school day. See related article: The Boston Globe “As Schools Reopen, Students Struggle with COVID Trauma.”

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Author: City Connects

City Connects is an innovative school-based system that revitalizes student support in schools. City Connects collaborates with teachers to identify the strengths and needs of every child. We then create a uniquely tailored set of intervention, prevention, and enrichment services located in the community designed to help each student learn and thrive.

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