Student Well-Being

April 1, 2020

Updated: September 14, 2020


The Challenge

The outbreak of COVID-19 throughout the United States is causing physical, mental, and financial stress for students and families. With thousands of workers being laid off and children missing in-class instruction, families are being forced to confront unfamiliar and daunting challenges in the wake of the virus.

As state and national leaders fight to stop the spread of COVID-19, individuals are being pushed into isolation. While these policies inhibit the transmission of the disease, they can have detrimental effects on mental health and well-being. Policymakers must consider the effects that the current pandemic will have on the mental health and well-being of their constituencies, working to understand how to properly balance implementing safeguards against the virus while providing the right supports for students and families.

As schools closed their doors to slow the spread of COVID-19, organizations throughout the nation reached out to those directly affected by these closures, asking what kinds of support students and families need at this time. Among the most common responses, according to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, was a call for trauma-informed practices to support students in the short- and long-term.

In addition to the strain social distancing is placing on students as they transition to distance learning, it is also adding another layer of stress for parents as they juggle work, homeschooling, and parenting. To help ease the pressure on parents, best practices have been identified to help parents manage the difficult task of working from home while ensuring their children’s education continues.

Policy Considerations

State policymakers can take a number of steps to support both student and family well-being during the country’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • Gather and Share Resources about Student and Family Well-Being
    • State leaders can make resources available so that educators across the state can support students and families who may be struggling in the wake of the response to COVID-19.
    • In Texas, a system of charter schools, known as Texans Can Academies, is providing a counseling service that students can use 24-7. Texans Can covers the costs of these services.
    • Falls Church City Public Schools has created an online system to offer students wraparound services, including mental health services. 
  • Ensure that families of students with disabilities know how to ensure continuity of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)
    • For families with students with disabilities, it is important for them to remain in contact with local education agencies  (LEAs) and service providers to ensure whatever requirements agreed upon in the student’s IEP are still met. The U.S. Department of Education provides guidance on this here. It is important to note that even though schools are closed, all students still have a right to a free and appropriate education, including those with special needs.

← Click to access The Hunt Institute COVID-19 Resources & Policy Considerations Page

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