Should Schools Re-Open ASAP? (Part 1): Our SSWNetwork/SSWAA LUNCHTIME LIVE CHAT
We had a spirited chat this past Monday as we all start to grapple with the questions around what it will take to re-open our schools in the U.S. safely? And importantly, what are the key components of trauma-informed care, SEL, and MTSS that can be brought into the conversation to make sure that our students, parents, and staff are ready for the many complicating issues that will come with re-opening?
We organized our conversation around this article that was heard on National Public Radio (NPR) where a leading pediatrician essentially called for schools to re-open asap due to the stresses being home was causing young children (“With School Buildings Closed, Children’s Mental Health Is Suffering“). We also plan in future LiveChats to look in more detail at what guidance states and federal sources are providing schools to consider re-opening, including this decision tree from the CDC that has been already criticized by experts as being too vague and open-ended, (“School Superintendents Dismiss White House, Will Follow Leaked CDC Guidance on Reopening,” U.S. News 5/15/20)
We are continuing to host our SSWNetwork/SSWAA LunchTime LiveChats During COVID-19 until June 12th, and will increasingly focus there on what it will take for our schools to re-open in the Fall, and what roles SSW are playing in making this happen. (Here are a couple articles of how it’s being done already in South Korea, and what the UK is planning as they anticipate having their schools re-open by June 1st.) After our chats wind up for the semester, we will continue the conversation on SSWN, at the SSWAA Virtual Conference June 29th-30th, and at our 15th Annual Loyola SMHAPP Summer Institute, July 16th-17th (delivered as a vritual event this year). Join us on SSWNetwork if you haven’t already–it’s free and there’s over 4,500 of us there now.
MONDAY, MAY 18
Michael Kelly11:01 amHi everyone and welcome to our Monday SSWNetwork/SSWAA LiveChat. See some familiar faces here (always good to see!) and can we do a quick roll call of who’s here, and where you are, and on a scale of 1-10, 10 being super-confident, how confident are you about your state’s plans for re-opening schools?
Wayne Trice11:02 amWayne-4
Melanie Rice11:02 amMelanie: 5
Jody Kristoff11:02 amJody- 3
Eunice Arzate11:03 am7
Michael Kelly11:03 amHi Eunice, is this your first time on our chat?
Eunice Arzate11:03 amYes.
Jody Berkelhamer11:03 amJody I’m not sure there is a solid plan.
Pitou Ireland11:03 am3
Hope Bray11:04 amHope–the plan is still in the works here in CT as I understand it
Michael Kelly11:04 amgreat, welcome! before we get into the topic for today (Should we re-open schools ASAP) if you wanted to tell us a bit about your SSW experience?
Stephanie Grotzky11:05 amI would second that I think the plan is fluid at this point; hopefully a good deal will happen over the summer.
Michael Kelly11:05 amand Jody B. too if you want to tell us a bit about your SSW background along with Eunice?
Pitou Ireland11:05 amDoes anyone have a preferred method of re-opening?
Eunice Arzate11:06 amI am have been a school social worker for 5 years in Houston Texas. I work with pk – 5th grade children.
Pitou Ireland11:06 amWelcome
Michael Kelly11:06 amand just to get a sense–what states do we have here? I’m IL, Eunice is TX, Stephanie G. and Wayne are UT, Hope is CT, any other states represented today?
Pitou Ireland11:07 amPitou is in Colorado
Jody Berkelhamer11:07 amI am a school social worker in a therapeutic day school for students with learning disabilities. This is my 13th year. I’m in Illinois.
Karol Snead11:07 amKarol in PA
Joy Lachendro11:07 amJoy in WI
Michael Kelly11:08 amall right, Pitou, and Jody B. another IL, great, and Karol PA, Joy WI. Lots of states represented today, so we’re going to have a rich conversation about this topic for sure. Looking forward to learning from all of you.
Jody Kristoff11:08 amJody: Indiana, our schools are closed for the current school year.
Michael Kelly11:08 amOk, so some organizing stuff: https://www.npr.org/2020/05/14/855641420/with-school-buil…
Michael Kelly11:09 amThat’s the article/story that NPR didWith School Buildings Closed, Children’s Mental Health Is Suffering
subscribe to Coronavirus Daily podcast Nightmares. Tantrums. Regressions. Grief. Violent outbursts. Exaggerated fear of strangers. Even suicidal thoughts. In response to a call on social media, parents across the country shared with NPR that the mental health of their young children appears to be suffering as the weeks of lockdown drag on.
Michael Kelly11:10 amFor a short piece, there’s a lot in it to unpack, and a lot that I am deeply concerned about re: our push to re-open schools. There’s also this article I just came across this morning from the UK, which is planning to re-open (!) in 2 weeks time:
Hope Bray11:10 amI read that one, too, Michael, and while the information contained wasn’t exactly shocking (to those of us in the field) it certainly is concerning
Jody Berkelhamer11:10 amI’m getting called into another meeting so I need to jump off. Sorry to miss this discussion!
Michael Kelly11:11 amThanks Jody–see you again sometime soon.
Jody Kristoff11:11 amMy niece and nephew live in Switzerland 🇨🇭, and they returned back to school May11th
Michael Kelly11:11 amSo let’s unpack the NPR one a bit, those of you who read it, what was concerning to you Hope about it?
Hope Bray11:11 amoh wow!
I worry about lower income families not having access to education online.
Hope Bray11:12 amStories from parents hearing very young children starting to talk more about death
Faizah Nasser11:12 amFaizah in Michigan
Michael Kelly11:12 amand anybody else who read it, what stood out to you, what do you think about the pediatrician saying we need to be back in school asap for 5-10 year old’s sake above all?
Hope Bray11:12 amThe impacts of isolation. The parents’ desperation–which I’ve at times related to (my kids are 12, 9, and 4)
Eunice Arzate11:12 amI worry about lower income families not having access to education online.
Hope Bray11:13 amI’ve been particularly worried about my 4 year old’s social development
Michael Kelly11:13 amI do too Eunice, and that’s the theme of the UK educator’s article I linked to, essentially arguing that staying closed and remote learning is creating a wider opportunity/achievement gap (but we’ll get to that article in a bit, for now the NPR one)
Pitou Ireland11:14 amI have concerns for students who have had issues with peers and not being able to work with them on this behavior.
Michael Kelly11:15 amI will also summarize some of the comments on the article when I posted it on the SSWN FB page too–very thought-provoking and diverse perspectives there, too.
Hope Bray11:15 amme too, Pitou! My groups via Google Meets have been great (though a tad chaotic) but not the same as being together in my office
Eunice Arzate11:16 amI think the NPR article definitely brough up an important issue in regards to students feeling isolated and possibly having thoughts about death.
Jody Kristoff11:17 amI can see the value in our communities developing a partnership with Community Mental Health.
Covid is having an impact on everyone. Some communities could be completely devastated(height number of cases, high death rates). Which would completely overwhelm us providing services.
Michael Kelly11:17 amsay more about that Jody K.?
Pitou Ireland11:17 amOur district has set up a mental health hotline through the school. We are volunteering time through out the day for parents who have concerns.
Michael Kelly11:18 amand also a lot of you are talking about a new layer to the grief counseling that I anticipate we’re going to have to plan to do upon return: helping youth (particularly young ones) understand and deal with think about death, well before they’re ready too.*ready to*
Hope Bray11:18 amI was surprised to hear from some of my students that they are still seeing their therapists in person
Pitou Ireland11:19 amDo you think to address this as a class or individually
Michael Kelly11:19 amreally, Hope? how are they doing that?
Jody Kristoff11:19 amCovid is having an impact on everyone. Some communities could be completely devastated(height number of cases, high death rates). Which would completely overwhelm us providing services.
My colleagues who are special education teachers have been working harder than anyone else, from what I can see, but our SPED students are falling further behind for many reasons. I have a SPED student who struggles and doesn’t have an English speaking parent in the home. How is that child supposed to do anything but fall behind?
Jody Kristoff11:20 amIn order to be proactive and service everyone presenting symptoms, we need help developing community out reach education in what to look for and how to treat/provide support.
Wayne Trice11:21 amThe lack of equity in education is really highlighted now with expecting families to be the home school teachers.
Hope Bray11:21 amthe therapists have spread out the appointments so people aren’t waiting in the waiting room but are still meeting in their offices. I imagine it’s not all of them in town, but some practices have been for awhieoops awhile
Michael Kelly11:21 amI worry about that a great deal Jody K. I feel that the creeping denial and straight-out intolerance we’re seeing from lots of state citizens (“this won’t happen here, we’re not THOSE people, kids don’t get sick”) could blow up very quickly and then those communities are in a whole new level of crisis, with schools open and struggling to respond
Hope Bray11:22 amI agree Wayne–going back to the statement of widening educational gaps–that’s been one of my concerns from go-time
Michael Kelly11:22 amAnd to Wayne’s point: the NPR article showed a stressed-out family and their kid (and it had that “evidence by anecdote” that gets my goat every time), but it also highlighted a 2-parent family with big-time means and social capital to do the difficult job of home schooling.
Karol Snead11:23 amAgreed, the disparity is going to widen.
Hope Bray11:23 amMy colleagues who are special education teachers have been working harder than anyone else, from what I can see, but our SPED students are falling further behind for many reasons. I have a SPED student who struggles and doesn’t have an English speaking parent in the home. How is that child supposed to do anything but fall behind?
Pitou Ireland11:24 amI agree with everyone. How do we advocate for our students? We need to develop a plan to address these issues.
Eunice Arzate11:24 amYes.
Hope Bray11:24 amAnd we all have live sessions with this child throughout the week and I speak directly to the Mom, but how can we possibly do enough?
Eunice Arzate11:24 amI agree pitou.
Pitou Ireland11:25 amHope, with your magic wand, what could possibly a solution?
Hope Bray11:25 amAt least for children with an IEP, we can adjust goals to work from wherever they are upon return, but I’m not sure what we do for children who fall from the middle to the low
Wayne Trice11:26 amThere are some conversations about this lack of equity and how this might result in some sort of due process for schools. Essentially if you can’t document the effort to reach all children then its not considered public education. Then schools are expected to make up compensatory services. So we document all efforts to that point.
Hope Bray11:26 amOh, wait, Pitou, where do I get one of those?
Michael Kelly11:26 amSo let’s take your comment Pitou and move to the next question I have: what are the plans so far for the actual re-opening of your schools, if you know them? I don’t mean dates etc. I’m talking about will all schools open as before, or with staggered times, mandatory testing for staff, etc.? Also Jody if you have any info on how Switzerland has done it so far, that would be interesting to hear, too.
Jody Kristoff11:26 amI’ll take one too! Lol
Pitou Ireland11:26 amHope, Amazon has everything.
Hope Bray11:26 amoh good!
Michael Kelly11:27 amYeah, my magic wand never came in the mail when I started as a SSW in 1992, I’m still waiting for it. 🙂
Pitou Ireland11:27 amOur district has not given us any direction yet. Lots of rumors.Michael, that’s because Amazon didn’t exist way way back then. 🙂
Michael Kelly11:28 amAnd while people are sharing what they know (to the extent that you do, I imagine it’s still very much in process), I can also say a bit about what I’m learning from the UK example that’s about to kick in
Hope Bray11:28 amAll I know at the moment is that our district )and state don’t return before August and the district is putting together a committee to discuss this return
We are talking about three possible plans: Closed, partial, new normal.
Michael Kelly11:28 amand what I learned that Korea is doing.
Pitou Ireland11:28 amDo we as social workers have an idea what would be best for our students to return next school year?
Wayne Trice11:28 amOrange: Closed Yellow: Partial Attendance/Opening Green: New Normal
Hygiene standards, Groups of 20 or fewer, Design space to maintain 6 foot distance, face coverings, Schools Closed Hygiene standards, Groups of 50 or fewer, Face Coverings in Public, 6 foot space, schools open
Michael Kelly11:29 amgreat question Pitou, what do you all think, while we wait to see what our districts are going to do?
Wayne Trice11:29 amTried to format that cut and paste but didn’t work well.
Michael Kelly11:30 amand what do you think about Wayne’s district’s plans, do you have questions for him on their plan so far?
Wayne Trice11:30 amwe are talking about three possible plans: Closed, partial, new normal
Hope Bray11:30 amThat is so hard to answer right now Michael–with the need for constant assessment, without real reasons to believe we are safe to return, I think it could be terribly traumatic to open and have students feel/be unsafe
Pitou Ireland11:30 amOur classrooms are so small to be six feet apart. We could possibly accommodate 10 kids max per room.
Hope Bray11:31 amAnd then we would have many students not return due to family/student fear
Jody Kristoff11:31 amSwitzerland took drastic measures, very quickly…being so close to Italy. Social Distancing was limited to groups of 5 for months. They did not do online learning. Only so many people allowed in stores at a time, only for bare necessities. Those interventions caused them to gain control of the number of cases. Number of positive cases were way low for a consistent period of time. Kids will attend school from now to last week of school to see if numbers increase, and make a recommendation for Fall.
Hope Bray11:31 amWhich would continue to widen educational gaps
Jody Kristoff11:32 amfrom now to last week of June…auto correct…sorry
Our classrooms are so small to be six feet apart. We could possibly accommodate 10 kids max per room.
Michael Kelly11:32 amthat’s my big worry Hope–both that kids & parents who are already fearful don’t return and/or show lots of acting-out anxiety in school, and then on top of that, if the schools have to go back into lockdown again what that does to the school community.
Wayne Trice11:32 amI think the next two and three weeks will be very telling. It already is as states numbers go up and politics-spin is because there is more testing.
Steven Friday11:33 amSteve 5
Jody Kristoff11:33 amIndiana’s Gov., plans to make a recommendation about school around July 4th. Numbers are going way up here, where I live.
Michael Kelly11:34 amWayne, the whole “we’re testing, so we’re okay” spin is so not what any serious public health researcher I’m following on Twitter is endorsing–to them it’s all about the 3-part “test, isolate, trace” and we’re not doing anything like the last 2 at scale (not really testing at scale either)
Hope Bray11:34 amI think we’d have to continue to offer some type of distance learning to families who don’t feel safe to return, but seeing how that’s been going, that would be so taxing to staff. But if we didn’t do that we’d risk ending up with a lot of homeschooling that really looks more like summer
Wayne Trice11:34 amBy august 17 when students are supposed to be back in the building…. I suspect we will have a whole new set of figures to deal with and still uncertainty.
Pitou Ireland11:34 amWe need to be proactive and come up with what we think would be an ideal plan. Could the schools reach out to the community for extra office space that is not being utilized to set up classrooms?
Hope Bray11:34 amThat’s my thought too, Wayne, which is why it’s so difficult to plan
Michael Kelly11:35 amI like that idea Pitou, of community/school partnerships on a new level to anticipate what might be needed, and I think SSW could definitely be part of leading and organizing those efforts.
Jody Kristoff11:35 amVery difficult situation.
Pitou Ireland11:35 amIf we can’t be back in school, we could be old school and make home visits. Not to go into the home, but to show our faces and encourage our kiddos to get on line. The students will know we exist
Wayne Trice11:36 amwe may have essentially two sets of schools 1) very large online school and then 2) those students whose parents want/have-to send their student to school.
Michael Kelly11:37 amThese ideas will all be a part of what we focus on during our Virtual Loyola SMHAPP Summer Institute too by the way; as I said last week in our chat, we’re going to create a set of long-form case study scenarios about re-opening schools in a trauma-informed way and these considerations are going to inform that work.
I think we’d have to continue to offer some type of distance learning to families who don’t feel safe to return, but seeing how that’s been going, that would be so taxing to staff. But if we didn’t do that we’d risk ending up with a lot of homeschooling that really looks more like summer.
Jody Kristoff11:37 amIs there a link to enroll?
Pitou Ireland11:37 amThat is a great idea for the summer institute.
Beth Frank-Heath11:38 amDr.Kelly, is there updated information in the virtualconference in July?
Wayne Trice11:38 amis there a manual for this? Cause if there is, we’d all buy it and the magic wand.
Michael Kelly11:38 amI agree Wayne–I also wonder about the anti-lockdown parents in these red states, and whether they’ll be putting their kids back in school asap, just like they’re demanding that businesses do. We’ll see–it’s one thing when it’s your business and/or a tavern you want to go to, another when it’s your own kids.
Jody Kristoff11:38 amYes, indeed!
Michael Kelly11:38 amWayne, we heard that the magic wand is on back order at Amazon 😆…
Hope Bray11:39 amMy son’s daycare/preschool opens up soon, and while I’m pretty desperate for daycare and so concerned about his social development, I don’t feel safe to send him so I won’t at this point
Wayne Trice11:39 amI also expect there will be some difference in rural and suburban that impact equity for students.
Michael Kelly11:39 amTelling Our Story and Sharing What Works: A 2-Day Collaborative Workshop to Build Your School Mental Health Practice July 16-17, Loyola Chicago SSW
The 15th Annual Family and School Partnership Program Summer Institute, July 16 & 17, 2020 (Now Changed to an Online Event Due to COVID-19)
Title: Telling Our Story and Sharing What Works: A 2-Day Collaborative Workshop to Build Your School Mental Health Practice
Dates:Thursday, July 16-Friday, July 17, 2020 (Online Event Both Days)
Times: 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. (Virtual Event, Due to COVID-19)
Presenters: Michael Kelly, PhD, Jonathan Singer, PhD & Loyola School Mental Health Advanced Practice Program (SMHAPP) Students
Michael Kelly11:40 amLink to register: 6.5 CEUs/CPDUs per day (13 total)
General Admission: $120/2 days
Loyola and SMHAPP Alumni: $90/2 days
Field Instructors, Adjunct Faculty, and Students: $65
Register here: www.luc.edu/ssw/FSPP2020
Pitou Ireland11:40 amI think we need to think Tier level 1, 2, 3 for re-opening the schools and what would benefit the students in these levels.
Jody Kristoff11:40 amThank you!
Beth Frank-Heath11:40 amThank you!
Wayne Trice11:41 amHope those decisions are scary and overwhelming. 🙁
Michael Kelly11:41 amI agree Pitou, an MTSS approach to this re-opening work, combined with a trauma lens and SEL seems to be crucial for us to be using in our planning.
Jody Kristoff11:42 amOur Superintendent quit in the middle of all this, which adds another dynamic of uncertainty in these strange times.
Wayne Trice11:42 amthe yellow/orange/green is like a tier
Pitou Ireland11:42 amMaybe at the summer institute we could be able to discuss an idea.
Michael Kelly11:42 amand I know you’ve talked about this a bit Wayne, but is this state-wide in UT or just your district?
Michael Kelly11:43 amWhat idea are you referring to Pitou?
I think we need to think Tier level 1, 2, 3 for re-opening the schools and what would benefit the students in these levels.
Hope Bray11:43 amYes, they are, Wayne
Wayne Trice11:43 amits not state driven
Pitou Ireland11:43 amsorry the idea of tier re-opening with MTSS and SEL
Hope Bray11:44 amOh Jody, that’s terrible!
Michael Kelly11:45 amno worries, that’s what I thought you were referring to, and yes, spoiler alert 😁 that’s exactly how we’re going to craft the scenarios we put forward. While I’m on this, the way we’re going to work on these will be in small break-out groups using Zoom that are co-led by my awesome Loyola SMHAPP students who have decades of experience in their own school mental health roles…it’s going to be a lot of (virtual) fun, and I can’t wait!
Jody Kristoff11:46 amWhat’s MTSS? I’d like to look into it.
Pitou Ireland11:46 amGreat, it is great to proactive and productive.
Michael Kelly11:46 amMTSS = multi-tiered systems of supports, previously called a variant of RTI, PBIS, SWPBIS. Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 work
Faizah Nasser11:47 amOur school just put their return to school committee together and I’ve heard they are discussing options like Wayne’s district
Jody Kristoff11:47 amWe call it RTI, same thing. Got it, thanks!
Pitou Ireland11:48 amI wonder, Faizah, if there is a mental health person on the return to school committee.
Faizah Nasser11:48 amthey have a psychologist and two social workers
Michael Kelly11:48 amgreat point Pitou, we need to be there, and actually we need a lot of us to be on those planning groups (glad to hear that there’s some SMH representation for yours, Faizah)
Pitou Ireland11:48 amGood to hear. I think mental health is often forgotten
Michael Kelly11:50 amGreat conversation today everybody, and we’re going to keep this “re-opening schools” topic throughout the next month of these LiveChats, returning back to it this Friday.
Faizah Nasser11:51 amThis is a good article I read that pointed out the need of school social workers during times like these: https://www.lessonsforsel.com/post/why-every-school-must-…
The Scottish government is considering if it is feasible for children to carry out physical distancing in schools once the lockdown is over. So how can you social distance in a school? The Scottish government says there are early signs that the impact of the coronavirus is being contained.
Pitou Ireland11:51 amI think it would be great if we could bring some ideas for Friday’s chat as to what we think would benefit our students in suggesting ways to return to school or not.
Michael Kelly11:52 amthanks for sharing this article, Faizah. and Pitou I like your idea, the whole idea of how to support our students with this transition (whenever it happens) is crucial.
Jody Kristoff11:52 amThanks everyone!
Faizah Nasser11:53 amThanks everyone! Looking forward to hearing more thoughts on this topic
Michael Kelly11:53 amand before we go, Hope do you want to give folks a preview of what you’re going to talk about on Wed.?
Eunice Arzate11:53 amThis was great. Thank you.
Hope Bray11:53 amOh boy! sure
Kimberly Winkel11:54 amThank you for your time.
Hope Bray11:54 amWe will talk about Bounce Back trauma groups and how we’ve used them in Newtown, CT after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook
Michael Kelly11:54 amthanks for being here Eunice, we’ll be doing these M, W, F through June 12th. at the same 11-Noon central time.
Pitou Ireland11:54 amSounds like a great Wednesday topic
Hope Bray11:55 amI’m excited to try out presenting in this totally different format 😬
Jody Kristoff11:55 amlooking forward to your presentation on Wednesday, Hope.
Hope Bray11:55 amI’m expecting a surge in referrals once we returnThank you all!
Michael Kelly11:56 amI’m super-excited too Hope for you to share on this topic with us, and if any of you have an intervention or strategy or topic you would like to present on, let me know offline at [email protected] and I can work with you on that.Thanks Hope and thanks everybody for being here today–take care and be well.
Jody Kristoff11:56 amYou too
Hope Bray11:56 am”see” you Wednesday!
Eunice Arzate11:57 amSee you Wednesday. I am really excited to hear you present.
Hope Bray11:57 amThank you, Eunice!