Teachers and School Staff

Urban Youth Trauma Center | COVID-19 Best Practices

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Teachers and School Staff

UYTC COVID Best Practices 03COVID-19 Best Practices for Trauma Intervention
Teachers and School Staff
Know the signs… be supportive
Living through a global pandemic such a COVID-19 can lead to a range of social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive problems. It is important that individuals are able to identify the signs that children and youth may be struggling and know the best ways that they can provide support.
  • Identify ways to continue current social emotional learning curricula virtually.  While providing SEL lessons in the traditional school environment is important, it may be even more important now because of the impact of social isolation and inability to spend time with school staff and friends.
  • Provide information for caregivers about how school counselors will continue to support the mental health of students.
  • Conduct a brief webinar for school staff reinforcing how to identify individuals who need support and are demonstrating concerning behaviors.
  • Have a plan for identifying and contacting students who have not been in contact with school (not completing assignments, not responding to emails or participating in video meetings, etc.).
  • Provide recommendations for how parents can best support students with at-home learning and make sure assignment expectations are clear and detailed. In order to support families that are struggling with at-home learning, make sure you are available by phone or email and have virtual office hours.
A sense of Trust
The circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic may cause children and youth to feel that they cannot rely on anyone for safety or support. The presence of positive and stable relationships is extremely important. The care and support provided by caregivers and other adults can help with positive development and resiliency.
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  • Encourage families to participate in virtual meetings offered by the school so that students can remain connected to adults from school who they had close relationships with.
  • Send periodic emails and/or short video messages to families to let students know that you are thinking about them, miss seeing them at school, and are still available to assist with school related tasks.
A sense of Mastery
Changes in normal routines and the transition to at-home learning during the COVID-19 pandemic may cause children and adolescents to develop low self-esteem, poor self-mastery, and the belief that they are unable to accomplish tasks or develop new skills. It is important to support children and youth who may be struggling during this time and work with them on building new skills and developing a sense of mastery.
  • Although students and parents are participating in at-home learning, no one should be expected to perform as they would within a normal school environment. Encourage students to make efforts to complete their work and master content, however, understand that they may not be able to do their best without the normal in-person access to school staff.
  • Some students are dealing with various home and life situations during this time which may prevent them from completing some or all assignments. Teachers should be mindful of this and avoid discipline for missed assignments and instead appreciate any effort that families take to maintain connected with the school.
  • Be mindful that academic performance during this at-home learning process will vary from student to student. Student success, communication with school staff, and assignment completion may be impacted by a number of factors (internet access, parent availability, housing stability, language barriers, etc.).
  • Maintaining rules that were in place before the pandemic (e.g., number of bathroom breaks allotted during virtual classroom sessions, policies on late assignments) will also help promote a sense of normalcy.  
Feeling Safe
The uncertainty surrounding this virus, daily media reports, shelter in place policies, and constantly changing information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic may cause children and youth to feel unsafe or concerned about their family’s wellbeing. It is important to work towards creating an environment where individuals can feel safe by helping to identify safe spaces, building supportive relationships, and discussing ways to stay safe and healthy.
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  • For some children who have experienced abuse or neglect school was their only safe space. Identify ways to continue helping these students by linking them to outside services or having the school counselor complete check-ins with the family. 
  • During check-ins with teachers, some children may express that they are worried about their health and safety during this time. Consider giving a brief age-appropriate lesson about what they can do to stay safe such as washing hands, social distancing, staying at home, etc.
Changing the Message
The information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic changes daily and children and youth are getting information from multiple sources. It is important to identify their current beliefs regarding COVID-19, promote positive thinking regarding recovery, continue reviewing ways to stay safe, and avoid spreading false information.
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  • Have administrators or teachers record messages for students and parents that emphasize caring for each other and staying connected, highlighting supportive actions being taken, and sending a message of hope, encouragement, and excitement for the eventual return to school.
  • During virtual classroom meetings with students, make sure that no one is using stigmatizing language or sharing false information. Children should be provided with factual, age appropriate information about how to avoid infections and the spread of disease. Teaching children positive preventive measures, talking with them about their fears, and giving them a sense of some control over their risk of infection can help reduce anxiety.

Share Your Story! Using the hash tags #PromotingPandemicPeace and #UYTC, share examples of how you are using the best practice strategies to help yourself, your family, or others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click UYTC Coping with COVID-19 Best Practices Fact Sheet to download a printable copy for all youth providers and audiences.


Share Your Story! Take the Pledge!

We would like you to join our campaign by writing down your pledge for how you plan to use the best practice strategies to help yourself, your family, or others during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can share your pledge on social media using the hashtags #PromotingPandemicPeace, #UYTC, and #COVID19

Click COVID-19 Campaign Instructions and Pledge Sheet to download a printable copy.