Children and the impacts of COVID-19

As City Connects works through the coronavirus, we are acutely aware of the painful impact this moment in history is having on school children. 

“There are two big issues” Mary Walsh, the Executive Director of City Connects says, “the impact of COVID-19 on kids and the impact of the shutdown on kids.” 

Given the 24/7 news cycle, Walsh adds, children and families can be bombarded with necessary but nonetheless devastating news about the pandemic. 

“What we know, based on research, is that kids understand illness in very different ways, depending on their developmental stage. 

“Little kids think magically. How does the sun come up? Someone pushes it. Or: If you touch someone with COVID, you can die. They can worry for days about these things, even weeks. Older children, who are 10 to 12, can understand more. But they’re not going to reassure themselves by reflecting on the fact that we got through the 1918 flu pandemic.” 

That’s why it’s crucial to connect students to people and services. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 4/21/20

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Teens are worried about coronavirus, especially teens of color.

U.S. Department of Education releases coronavirus aid to K-12 schools.

School counseling and social-emotional learning go online.

To read more, click on the following links.

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New brief: COVID-19 and the importance of comprehensive services

In the midst of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, schools and community partners are mobilizing to help students with resources beyond academics.

“In every community, people are working in emergency conditions to address similar challenges. How do we get children food? How do we ensure everyone has access to technology needed for learning? How do we maintain students’ and families’ relationships with teachers and others who know and care about them? How can we best help our families help their children?” Joan Wasser Gish asks. She is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Boston College Lynch School of Education and Human Development’s Center for Optimized Student Support, the home of City Connects. 

“By synthesizing answers to these questions and adding the expertise of practitioners to that of policymakers and scientists, we hope to provide information that is useful and actionable,” Wasser Gish adds.

That’s why the Center is releasing a new policy brief. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 4/13/20

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In the face of coronavirus, teachers feel anxious and overwhelmed.

Coronavirus aid might not prevent school funding cuts.

Some school districts are feeding more people than food banks.

To read more, click on the following links.

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Minnesota meets coronavirus-generated needs

To cope with the effects of the coronavirus on students and families in Minnesota, City Connects Coordinators started with the basics: making sure families had access to food, housing, and emergency child care. 

Coordinators made phone calls and sent out surveys to assess needs. They worked with restaurants that were donating free lunches. They worked with Sheridan Story, a local nonprofit organization, that sends food home in backpacks. 

“At this point, all our families can access food,” Laurie Acker, Minnesota’s City Connects Program Manager, says. 

But that was just step one. 

Step two was becoming Internet-ready. Coordinators made sure that students had Internet access and laptops. That meant connecting families to free municipal WiFi or helping them sign up for low-cost plans so their children could participate in distance learning. One coordinator also set up a website with resources for families. Coordinators are also organizing social emotional skills groups online and creating related videos. And they are running Student Support Team meetings (where individual students’ needs are reviewed) online.  Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 4/6/20

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Teaching social-emotional skills when students are not in school.

Vermont says it will cover tuition for preschools to help them stay economically viable.

In the face of COVID-19, school counselors try to keep students connected to mental health services.

To read more, click on the following links.

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Boston: Bridging the distance with student support

Although the spread of coronavirus has closed the Boston Public Schools’ buildings, City Connects Coordinators are still at work. 

Coordinators helped close the schools. They put together resource lists for families, helped teachers set up websites, and distributed laptops to students. Then the coordinators leapt with Boston’s schools into the world of online education and on-going student support. 

“Everybody is learning as we go,” City Connects Program Manager Sara Davey says of the coordinators who continue to keep students connected to supports and services. “The thing I’m most proud of is how quickly everybody jumped into action.” 

Losing daily, in-person contact with students is challenging, but the coordinators are building on the hard work they’ve been doing throughout the school year.

“I think the heart of everything our coordinators do is building relationships,” Davey says, explaining that coordinators’ ongoing connections to students, families, and administrators have helped them thrive in the virtual landscape. 

“Our coordinators have gotten very creative in the ways that they are doing outreach to students and families.” This includes jumping into a web-based Google Classroom site to communicate with families as well as providing a wide range of other kinds of assistance:  Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 3/30/20

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These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

The economic fallout of the coronavirus epidemic could hurt student learning.

A federal coronavirus bill includes $13.5 billion for schools.

In the shadow of coronavirus, schools scramble to help homeless students.

To read more, click on the following links.

Continue reading