Schools across the country are closing to slow the spread of the coronavirus. If your school is still open, here are four things you need to know:

  1. Most children aren’t showing symptoms. To date, the virus is having a more severe impact on older adults and people with a history of respiratory infections.
  2. Students who are sick should not come to school. Remind families to keep children home from school if they have a fever.
  3. Prevention is key. Encourage staff and students to wash their hands regularly throughout the school day. Handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is the most effective way to minimize the threat of contracting the virus.
  4. The Center for Disease Control has developed a fact sheet to explain COVID-19 and the steps people can take to protect themselves. Share it with your students, families and staff. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/2019-ncov-factsheet.pdf

 

Support students and families during transition to remote learning

As schools across the nation shift to remote learning, educators, students and families are faced with significant challenges. To ease the transition, remember that:

  • Not all families have access to computers and high-speed internet. If possible, provide tablets and hotspots to students who are in need.
  • Parents will have to assist younger students with online learning. Young children will need help logging into an app, reading instructions, staying on task, etc. Teachers should keep this in mind as they prepare lessons.
  • Families rely on schools for more than learning. Schools provide students with free or affordable meals, counseling and after-school activities. When school is out, families often struggle to find childcare. Work with your community to support students and their families during the tradition to remote learning.

 

Quote of the Day

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“You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people. You can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people.”

Cornel West

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When teachers connect directly with parents and help them become engaged in their children’s math education, everyone wins. Encourage teachers to:

  • Summarize the math concepts students are learning. Use family-friendly language and include practical examples.
  • Inform parents that current math content and instruction will look different from the math they had in school.
  • Share math resources, such as websites and apps, that parents can explore with their children.
  • Provide ideas about how parents can support their children with math homework.
  • Remind parents that they are not expected to be the teacher and reteach or explain concepts.
  • Encourage parents to contact them with questions and concerns. Communication is key!

 

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Don’t forget to thank volunteers!

Most schools have a group of dedicated parent volunteers. And sometimes, in the rush of things, those volunteers can be taken for granted. Make sure you don’t forget to thank your reliable workers. Here are a few simple ways to show your appreciation:

  • Have a special column in your school newsletter that is dedicated to recognizing volunteers.
  • Post messages of thanks on your school’s social media platforms.
  • Create a wall of fame display with photos of volunteers helping with school events and activities.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

A new study published in the Journal of School Psychology found that 94% of middle school teachers experience high levels of stress, which could contribute to negative outcomes for students. Researchers agree that reducing the burden of teaching is critical to improving student success—both academically and behaviorally.

K.C. Herman and others, “Profiles of middle school teacher stress and coping: Concurrent and prospective correlates,” Journal of School Psychology.

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Want families to feel welcome in your school? A family resource center can provide a vital link between home and school. The most effective family resource centers:

  • Make parents feel welcome. Provide comfortable seating, access to laptops or tablets, and free Wi-Fi.
  • Provide helpful information on a wide variety of subjects, from nutrition to discipline to study skills. Make sure written materials are translated into the languages families speak.
  • Offer classes. Survey families to identify specific topics of interest—from coping with divorce to handling homework.
  • Make services easier to obtain.  Many family resource centers offer a place for parents to meet with other service agencies, such as the health department and various employment agencies.

 

Work with parents to get students back on track

As teachers look through their grade books, they can probably already pick out students who are in danger of failing. Encourage teachers to work with parents to help students get back on track.

  • Cast a wide net. Don’t just alert parents of students who are already failing. Alert parents of D students as well.
  • Write a letter to parents outlining concerns. Invite them to work with you on creating an action plan for their child.
  • Make a list of everything the student needs to do. Include missed assignments and tests. If attendance has been a problem, include that as something for the student to work on.
  • Help the student set achievable goals. Failing students can feel overwhelmed. Help them create a schedule of what they need to do, and by when.
  • Follow up. Check with parents through emails or phone calls.

 

Quote of the Day

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“The fundamental pillars of school leadership are relationships; nothing substitutes for building and nurturing them.”

Joanne Rooney

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Research shows that school-based services delivered by teachers and other school professionals can be effective in reducing mental health problems in students. While not all schools have the staff, training or resources to provide mental health services, all schools can be proactive in identifying at-risk students and helping them get the support they need. .

  • Educate school staff on the warning signs of mental illness. Share a list of behaviors they should be on the lookout for.
  • Implement a clear reporting process. Who should staff members notify with concerns?
  • Develop a list of mental health resources in your community. Share it with staff members, parents and students.
  • Encourage teachers to have open discussions with students about mental health. This will help reduce the stigma and build students’ knowledge and understanding of the subject.

 

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Encourage teachers to ask parents for input

Parents can provide valuable insights into home life and other areas of students’ lives. And understanding the strategies parents use to address challenges at home can provide teachers with additional tools to use at school. Encourage teachers to tap into parent wisdom and ask questions, such as:

  • What are some strategies that have helped your child educationally in the past? Why do you think they have been successful?
  • What is your child passionate about?
  • How does your child spend free time?
  • Does your child display anxiety at home?
  • How much time does your child spend on homework? Are family members home to provide support during homework time?

did-you-know  Did You Know?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than half of lifetime mental illnesses begin before age 14. However, the average person waits 10 years after the first symptoms occur before getting treatment.

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Celebrate National Reading Month by hosting reading celebrations throughout March—and include parents in some of your events. Consider inviting families to a Breakfast Book Brunch:

  • Have a variety of books available so families can read while they snack on breakfast foods.
  • Invite a surprise guest reader to read a short book to families.
  • Provide take-home materials about the importance of reading.
  • Provide reading materials in the languages spoken by your school community.
  • Have mentors available to read with students whose family members cannot attend.

 

Reading support may be closer than you think!

Studies show that children who see older children reading for pleasure are more likely to seek out books themselves. To boost your students’ reading skills:

  • Pair older students with younger students. These reading buddies can meet during specified times to talk and read together. Older students can even make book recommendations.
  • Partner with other schools. Recruit local high school students to come read to classes or to provide literacy tutoring for your students.
  • Send information home to parents about the benefits of having older siblings or other children read with their child.

 

Quote of the Day

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“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and diligence.”

Abigail Adams

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