The Weekly Connect 3/1/21

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:

The timing of when food stamps are issued can affect test scores.

Governor Charlie Baker calls on Massachusetts elementary schools to be open five days a week by April.

A Philadelphia Catholic School successfully navigates the pandemic.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Covid: Catch-Up Narrative Putting ‘Huge Pressure’ on Children, Psychologists Say
BBC News: Dr. Dan O’Hare, co-chair of the British Psychological Society’s division of educational and child psychology, said it was “absolutely understandable” that parents are concerned children have “been missing out on many aspects of their formal education” – but warned against setting expectations too high. “The notion that children need to catch up or are ‘behind’ at school due to the pandemic reinforces the idea that children have ‘one shot’ at their education and puts them under even more pressure to perform academically after what has been a challenging and unprecedented time for everyone,” he told the PA News agency. Experts stress that it is important to focus on children’s overall wellbeing, rather than just their academic learning and performance as students. 

Timing of Food Stamps Can Affect Test Scores, Study Finds
Education Week: Students who took a college-entrance exam more than two weeks after their families received food stamps scored more poorly than those who took the test soon after receiving the aid, a new research paper finds. Other social science research has shown that households tend to increase their food spending and consumption immediately after receiving food stamps, but then taper off before their next disbursement. In effect, the research indicates, students with a bad testing date are probably hungrier and not as able to put their best foot forward on the high-stakes SAT. While the declines in test scores are modest, they can have very real consequences for low-income students, who are less likely to attend a four-year college right after high school.


Schools Must Still Give Standardized Tests This Year, Biden Administration Says
Chalkbeat: The Biden administration recently said that states must administer federally required standardized tests this year, but schools won’t be held accountable for the results — and states could give shorter, remote, or delayed versions of the exams. The decision means that schools will have to find ways to safely administer tests to tens of millions of students, many of whom are still learning remotely. It’s the first high-stakes decision for the Biden education department, coming even before its secretary of education nominee has been confirmed, and a signal that the new administration sees test score data as part of its strategy for helping students recover from the pandemic. See related article: Chalkbeat “This Year’s State Test Results Will be Tough to Make Sense Of, Experts Warn.”

Baker Administration Calls for Mass. Elementary Students to be in School Five Days a Week in April, With Older Students to Follow
Boston Globe: Governor Charlie Baker and top education officials recently unveiled a proposal to force districts to reopen their schools for in-person learning five days a week, a move that immediately ignited passions across the state and raised questions about local control. The proposal calls for full-time, in-person learning to begin in April for elementary schools and to eventually expand to middle schools. By then, tens of thousands of students will have been out of their classrooms full time for more than a year. State officials said they were persuaded to step in out of concern over the deteriorating mental health of many students and increasing loss of learning. They also cited the drop in coronavirus cases around the state. See related article: Mass Live “Counselors Hope In-Person Classes Will Boost Mental Health.”

Around the Nation

How One School is Coping with Mental Health: Social Workers Delivering Technology, Food and Counseling to Kids at Home, and Open Office Hours All Day — Even When School is Out
The Hechinger Report: College Achieve Greater Asbury Park Charter School in New Jersey has prioritized students’ mental health during the pandemic by going beyond traditional counseling in school. Even though half the school’s students still learn remotely, the school’s three social workers, two of whom were hired after the start of the pandemic, and the two school resource officers, spend half their work day doing in-person home visits. Before heading out, they call families to see what supplies are needed, including supplies like papers, pencils and crayons, back-up Chromebook chargers, or food and warm clothing for kids. Wearing school-provided gloves and masks, they try to meet students and parents outside on front porches or at a neighborhood park to follow social distancing rules. See related article: LI Herald “Focusing on Student Mental Health During COVID.” 

The Pandemic Has Put a Light on Mental Health Issues for Young Athletes — And Started a Dialogue
The Washington Post: Around the country, high school athletes said they’ve experienced depression and anxiety since sports in their states were canceled, losing the structure, identity, and stress relief they’ve relied on much of their lives. In response, high schools have taken extra measures to provide resources and combat mental health stigma. In January, the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association organized a 90-minute Zoom meeting for its athletes to discuss mental wellness with mental health professionals and professional athletes dealing with mental health struggles. These sessions are among the few resources targeted to athletes. Unlike college and professional teams, few high schools employ a sports psychologist, which means high school coaches often double as untrained mental health professionals.

How the Pandemic Has Altered Discipline — Perhaps Forever
The Hechinger Report: Remote instruction has opened up a new world when it comes to school discipline. The lines between students’ school and home lives have blurred, and teachers must make tricky calculations about when to intervene in situations witnessed over Zoom, with little guidance from administrators. At the same time, with fewer children in classrooms, some districts are seeing decreases in the number of students being referred to the justice system by school administrators, prompting advocates and lawyers to wonder if schools will permanently reconsider their role in criminalizing student behavior. Conversely, they also worry that if students don’t receive adequate counseling and other support to cope with the pandemic, there will be a surge in behavioral issues and punitive discipline when more children return to classrooms.

In-Person Classes. Old Buildings. Almost No COVID. Are Philly Catholic Schools a Blueprint?
Chalkbeat: St. Pio Regional Catholic School in South Philadelphia serves approximately 230 K-8 students. They’ve been learning in a decades-old building five days a week since September. Their methods for navigating COVID-19, which include having a window cracked and a door open in each room, conducting regular cleanings, using a system for bathroom trips, installing a three-panel barrier that students raise whenever they need to lower their masks, and maintaining six feet of physical distancing, have proven to be quite effective. Only five members of the school community have contracted COVID-19 since September, and none of the cases were spread within schools.

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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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