How You Can Foster Your Students’ Safety and Wellbeing
School psychologists played a key role in helping kids that returned to in-person school after the COVID shutdowns last year.
As we approach the next school year, we still face challenges that require comprehensive planning and preparedness. Fortunately, a vital function of school psychologists is to help develop schoolwide plans that ensure the safety and security of students, schools and communities.
Our Cross Country Education team would like to help by sharing this helpful resource based on how the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) recommends you PREPaRE for crises like COVID-19.
PREPaRE for COVID
NASP recently published an article on building comprehensive plans within the framework of the PREPaRE model. The 5 steps and corresponding questions below address how you, as a school psychologist, can ensure your schools use best practices and address all areas of potential concern after COVID shutdowns virtual/hybrid learning.
1. Prevent and Prepare for Psychological Trauma
- How will schools handle the loss of instructional time over the many months of school closures?
- Will this loss of time impact psychoeducational evaluations?
- How will additional accommodations be provided to students with academic, behavioral, and/or social-emotional disabilities?
- What measures will be taken to clean and sanitize facilities, classrooms, and buses?
- How will large group activities be structured?
- How will schools help students feel physically and psychologically safe?
- How will schools provide compensatory services if special education services were not provided during the closure?
Psychologically and Emotionally
- How will trauma-informed practices and crisis intervention be provided for students and staff?
- How will teams identify students and staff members who need support?
- How will the school memorialize staff and students who have lost their lives to the virus?
2. Reaffirm Physical Health and Perceptions of Safety and Security
- How will safety and sanitation measures be communicated?
- How will the school ensure that the basic needs of students are still being met?
- How will students with special needs (IEPs and 504s) be supported?
- How will new safety measures change students’ daily routines? This is especially important for students with medical issues, autism, and/or cognitive delays.
3. Evaluate Psychological Trauma (Triage)
- How will students be identified as needing support?
- How will we account for the following when completing triage?
- Event variables (predictability, duration, consequences, intensity)
- Individual risk factors (physical and emotional proximity, previous trauma history, underdeveloped support systems, etc.)
- Individual warning signs (panic attacks, depression, feelings of hopelessness, etc.)
4. Provide Interventions and Respond to Psychological Needs
- How will interventions be provided in a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) model that ensures all levels of need are addressed: universal (tier 1), targeted (tier 2), and tertiary (tier 3)?
- What outside services are available for students who need psychological, physical, or other types of support?
5. Examine the Effectiveness of the Prevention and Intervention Plan
- How can we use data such as grades, test scores, disciplinary referrals, attendance rates, and surveys to debrief about student response and recovery?
Thanks for reading this resource on best practices. To find additional information on how you can help students return to school after COVID closings, visit the NASP COVID-19 Resource Center.