The Weekly Connect 3/14/22

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:

Suicide is rising among younger students.

Congress fails to extend universal school meals

A judge will decided whether New Jersey has to desegregate its schools

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

What’s Behind the COVID Academic Slide? Some Things Mattered More Than Remote Learning
Education Week: A new study from Curriculum Associates found that there was only a small difference in student growth during the pandemic between students who were learning in person versus those learning remotely. Students who were further behind at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year had smaller academic gains than their peers. Among these students who were further behind, those in schools with mostly students of color and high percentages of low-income families made the least progress.

For Lead-Exposed Students, Early Intervention Can Reduce Harm to Their Learning
Education Week: Children exposed to even low levels of lead can face academic and neurological problems in school. New research suggests early interventions can help a lot—but children whose problems don’t develop immediately often lose out on critical support. The research, published in JAMA Pediatrics, finds children exposed to lead before age 3, who also received early intervention services, were 16% more likely to perform on grade level in English/language arts, and 14% more likely to perform on grade level in math in 3rd grade, compared to lead-exposed children who did not have early interventions.

Suicide Is Rising Among Younger Students. Here’s How Schools Can Prevent Tragedy
Education Week: While rates of suicide among children 5-11 have risen on average 15% a year from 2013 to 2020, school districts often provide less support at the elementary and middle school levels to help students with serious mental health issues. As of 2020, suicide has become the second leading cause of death for those ages 10 to 14 and the 10th leading cause of death for those ages 5 to 9, according to CDC data. Research shows that children as young as 5 or 6 understand that killing oneself leads to death, but they don’t always understand the permanence of it. As a result, their behavior can be a lot more impulsive, moving from thought to action very quickly. Experts recommend training adults to be more comfortable talking about suicide in developmentally appropriate ways.

Policy

Slipping through the Cracks: Differing Federal Policies Keep Homeless Students from Getting Help
K-12 Dive: Students and families that districts have identified as homeless qualify for services under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. But a majority usually don’t get access to federally funded supports to quickly connect families with permanent housing because of a difference in the definition of “homelessness” under two separate federal agencies. While the Department of Housing and Urban Development defines homelessness as living on the streets or in a shelter, the U.S. Department of Education’s definition under the McKinney-Vento Act extends to children or families sharing housing with others. The difference in definition tends to disproportionately exclude students and their families, as they are more likely to choose doubled-up living situations or motels over shelters and the streets.

Finger-pointing Ensues After Congress Fails to Extend Universal School Meals
Politico: Universal free meals at schools are slated to end this summer, after a provision to extend temporary pandemic programs was not included in a major spending bill introduced on Capitol Hill. Schools whose nutrition programs feed millions of kids daily are in a tailspin after expecting an extension for another year. The flexibility allowed an additional 10 million students to eat free meals at school each day. Democrats and a long list of school groups are pointing at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for taking a hardline stance against extending the waivers.

Around the Nation

Improving School Air Quality is Crucial to Student Health
K-12 Dive: Early in the pandemic, the recommendation to schools about indoor air was simple — open windows and doors and let the fresh air inside. While increased ventilation with outside air is a good idea, it doesn’t work for all climates, and, most importantly, it’s not enough to ensure the air inside is clean. Outdated HVAC systems, especially in schools, tend to circulate dirty air regardless of whether the window is open or not. The U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates 1/3 of the approximately 100,000 American public schools have these outdated systems. School leaders should consider using federal funds for HVAC improvements to ensure clean air for children, some experts say.

Does NJ Have to Desegregate its Schools? A Judge Will Soon Decide
Chalkbeat: Hundreds of thousands of Black and Latino students in New Jersey attend schools where they are racially isolated and surrounded by poverty, despite strong state laws forbidding school segregation. One of the nation’s most segregated states, New Jersey, has allowed the problem to fester for decades. Plaintiffs who filed a historic lawsuit nearly four years ago argued that schools across the entire state are unlawfully segregated — the first lawsuit in New Jersey, and one of few nationally, to attack the issue in such sweeping fashion. If the challenge is successful, it could lead to fundamental changes to New Jersey’s school system and large-scale desegregation efforts not seen in the U.S. for decades.

Food Crisis in School Cafeterias is a Wake-up Call for the USDA
K-12 Dive: In light of the pandemic’s economic fallout, the School Nutrition Association recently reported 70% of school meal programs have limited menu choices, and nearly half are experiencing reduced staff due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic. These deficits are troubling because consistent, nutritious meals provided lifelong benefits, including better academic performance, decreased obesity, and decreased behavioral issues. The USDA has made healthy school meals a priority with a recent announcement about moving toward higher nutrition standards for school meals. However, right now, schools are unable to secure many basic menu items or to get them into the hands of students in need.

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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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