Impact of COVID-19 on School Safety - Roundtable Discussion, NIJ Virtual Conference on School Safety
On February 16-18, 2021, the National Institute of Justice hosted the Virtual Conference on School Safety: Bridging Research to Practice to Safeguard Our Schools. This video presents a roundtable discussion from the conference.
>> ...interactive, so if you, you know, aren't too shy and want to turn on your cameras, I think that makes it a whole lot easier for us to chat, so this will be informal, and we're going to talk about the challenges that your schools have faced during COVID and how some of these challenges have been addressed.
I hope you're going to walk away feeling like you have issues that are similar to others and hopefully some solutions that you hear today and solutions that you can share, so I'd like to throw it out to the group to start.
Can somebody start with telling us a little bit about what your schools have dealt with when it comes to safety issues around COVID? And if you just unmute yourself, I can tell that you're unmuted, and I will be happy to call on you.
Oh, Nadine, it looks like we have a very shy group today.
Well, I'm going to throw out something.
I know one of the things that we have heard about here in Colorado is that there have been lots of mental health concerns with students during this time of COVID, so can some of you share what some of those mental health concerns have been? Kelsey, would you like to start? >> Yeah.
Can you hear me okay? >> I can.
>> Yeah, I was just going to introduce myself.
I teach in South Dakota, and we have been open this whole entire time, with a full open.
We did not have a hybrid model, and so it's been an interesting roller coaster, essentially because we are luckily a masked school district.
Our school district took the initiative to require students to wear masks, and that has been really helpful, but interestingly from a school safety perspective, that's been a challenge.
You can only see, you know, a small portion of the student's face, but I'm really curious to kind of hear what everyone else has to say because we are really operating as if we're somewhat back to normal, yet we are not back to normal, and so I kind of joked, we're kind of like in a twilight zone in between what we once were and where we are now.
I'm just kind of curious, but I think that, you know, I don't know how may other schools have been open this whole time, but it's been an interesting perspective, and so I just wanted to share that.
>> Thank you, Kelsey, and before we go on to somebody else, would you tell us, even though you have kids in person, but you said it doesn't still feel like a normal school time.
What kind of mental health issues have you seen among the students? >> Well, we had a huge COVID spike during second quarter, and so a significant portion of our students either had someone in their house that had COVID or they themselves had had COVID, and so as we are preparing, you know, as we're continuing to keep this normal, and they're out for 14 days, plus they're sick, we have seen just a really difficult re-entry, you know, with kids not having Internet access, kids taking care of sick kids, but that are missing that classroom setting.
Some of our students did choose to start the school year online, and so that was an option our district had, so we did have students that were fully remote, but our school district and our state really left it up to every single individual school district.
We did not have a hybrid model, so you were either in 100 percent or you were out 100 percent, and so I think if you asked students, the majority of their challenges have been, "How do I maintain my academic performance when I'm out for potentially up to two to three quarantines?" and that's been challenging since the expectation has been somewhat normal when you come back, and that remote option hasn't been a requirement if they were face-to-face.
>> Okay, that makes sense that that would be difficult if you're quarantined for a spell and you're used to being in class, and now you have to catch up on all your work online.
Have you lost any students, Kelsey, to COVID? >> No, we have not lost students or staff in our district.
Our state, however, has, and if you've been paying attention to South Dakota news, I think we've been kind of all over.
We've been kind of the center focus.
I really can't stress it enough.
We are one of the few districts that require masks.
The majority of our schools across the state do not require masks, and I'm so fortunate that we do.
I think that's really helped.
I mean, I can guarantee that it's helped based on what I've seen.
>> I'm very happy to hear that you haven't lost any students.
That's really good news.
How about some others? How have the students been mental health-wise with COVID and whatever your configuration of schools has been, whether it's been a hybrid or you've been in person or you've been totally remote? Don't be shy.
I have to say, I'm really surprised that people aren't talking about the mental health conditions of our students because we've seen that in Colorado.
Unfortunately, we always tend to be one of the highest rates of suicide in the state, and although our suicide rate hasn't gone significantly risen during this time, we know that there's been a lot more suicidal ideation of students, and we have lost some students to suicide unfortunately during this time, and I know talking to the mental health providers here in the state, they have been working really hard to find ways to connect with students.
We are all sorts of different configurations here.
We're a state of 178 school districts, 140 of which are rural school districts, so many of our rural school districts, like Kelsey's in South Dakota, have been working in person for months and months, so things are pretty normal there, but we have a lot of very large school districts like in the Denver area where there have been all sorts of hybrid models.
Some schools are remote.
Some students are remote.
They're starting to open back up where elementary school students are returning to class, and then it will be middle school and high school students, but again when it breaks out again and people end up with the virus, they've had to close down again or kids have had to be quarantined, and so it has really been a bit of a chaotic mess at times in some of our schools, so I'm curious about some of the rest of you in your schools, what's happening there.
>> Chris, I think one thing to note is that we have some researchers also on the call as I'm seeing people's names, so if you're also a researcher and you're working with different school districts, like, you know, we invite you to sign up, participate and see, let us know what you've seen, or even if you're a parent and you're thinking about your child's school district, we'd really like to hear what you have to say as well.
>> We certainly would.
Anthony, would you tell us what's happening for you and what your role is? >> So my name is Anthony Peguero.
I'm one of the researchers that Nadine just highlighted in terms of collecting data.
I guess the context with us is pretty much our data collection has stopped.
I mean, we are primarily survey data, so, I mean, since everything shut down, we pretty much hit pause on our work, but, I mean, we've been contacting our school administrators that are partners in that project on a regular basis, and for us, one of the things that has come up is, I guess, multi-tiered or multifaceted in terms of, when we talk with them, and we're talking with a few different school districts, but also different administrators at different levels, what is it that they're dealing with in terms of trying to reopen school but also communication with the communities, but also changing policies, and this has happened over time where, in a way, as us as researchers started to have played a different role in terms of interacting with the school administrators by trying to give them information, but also almost in a way being like a consultant in a way of, like, not necessarily a therapist, but just having discussions because clearly these administrators are going through their own struggles of trying to ensure the safety of their student, trying to get things open, and then in some situations with these school districts, the tension between the politics and the differing messages of should they reopen, how they reopen, should they be wearing masks or not masks, what kind of policies, as well as trying to ensure the safety of marginalized students, right, that a lot of times, as we all know, these administrators are also thinking about the well-being of their teachers.
How is that teachers are now working from home and also entering their students home via online classes, and how to negotiate all those things with their mental health, their students' mental health, and as a researcher, we found ourselves, and we talked a lot about this in our team, and I'm on a couple of different projects, but particularly with AIR, like, what is our responsibility to ensure and try to facilitate in this moment where there's really no data collection, but also there's this yearlong relationship, which is in a way data collection, of how is it that school administrators are thinking about safety and engaging with teachers and engaging with parents and engaging with students still, and then trying to navigate pretty much on their own how to think about policy and how to implement safety and ensure the well-being and the learning process of their students pretty much with no guidance, right, or conflicting messages from local all the way to federal, so that was a real learning lesson for me but also for everyone on our team to, what is our responsibility? Even though there's not -- Even though our primary job with talking to these school administrators at this moment was, you know, to have a collaboration and collect data, but then this yearlong, continuing our supportive role and engaging with them as best as we can with giving them advice and feedback and almost just being, you know, like a consultant and, I guess, in a lack of a better word, so I think those are the things that what you're speaking to is, as a researcher, that we came across over this year.
>> That's really interesting, Anthony.
So they were reaching out to you, hoping that you had some answers for them as to how to do these things because none of us have ever done this before, and my guess is one of the things you did was kind of connect them with one another so that they could talk to each other about what was working and what isn't working.
That's really great that they had that opportunity to collaborate with all of you.
Thank you for sharing that.
Angelica, did you have something you wanted to share with us? Please.
>> Yeah, I am also research staff on a project run out of Nashville, so with the local school system, and it's being spearheaded at Vanderbilt University, so something that we've seen here is, we also use a lot of survey data.
Response rates are very low for our data collection points that we've had this year.
Just last week, our students had their fourth first day back in person, and we're also getting that winter storm, so now everyone is home again, but it's just, it's been very chaotic for students and also school staff.
Yeah, that's just been our experience here.
>> Angelica, what are some of the things the students were telling you in the surveys you conducted? >> I don't have access to the 2021 survey data yet.
I am friends with a significant number of teachers, but something I've heard secondhand from my friends working in the school is students saying that they were having connectivity issues.
The rollout for hot spots was incredibly slow.
The rollout for technology was slow, and then some households, I know families that have five students enrolled in online school, so it's five different devices going at one time, each student in a different class, so it's also, there's been a pretty hard burden put on parents here as well.
>> Absolutely, and can you imagine the parents that are trying to supervise five children with five different lessons as well as do their own work in many cases, too? So this has been really hard on our families as well, absolutely.
Thank you, Angelica.
Jen, did you want to share with us a little bit about what -- your perspective? >> Sure. At the moment, I'm only coming with the perspective of a parent, but I'm in -- We have one kiddo, and he's in Fairfax County Public Schools, so near the D.C. area, huge school district.
They've been virtual to this point, and I almost feel like I shouldn't have a voice in thinking about the impact because I have a unicorn of a child who went from okay to, like, the best student ever, I think, because of lacking distractions of his friends being right next to him, so from that, I feel like I shouldn't have a voice, but I will say also as a hockey coach that a lot of the extracurriculars had given the kids an opportunity mental health-wise to get over the isolation of school.
Like, if kids can get out and play soccer, and they can get out and play hockey, and they can get out and play basketball, those things are still happening.
They're happening differently.
Parents can't be watching them as closely, but I feel like kids that have been able, who've been stuck otherwise virtually, to get out and do other things and still be around their peers has been an upside, and some extracurriculars have gone on to meeting over Zoom, and so they've sometimes been able to participate more than they would have, if you had to drive a half hour to get somewhere, so I am an extraordinarily fortunate person who's had so far a very good experience with my student, a sixth grader, in this situation, but Fairfax is about to go back, and it's going to be really interesting to see how all the different kids deal and how the teachers deal, but I think that also school administrators, speaking to Anthony's point a few minutes ago, almost can't win with the parents that are out there with the torches and the pitchforks no matter what you do.
"Oh, virtual, to save the kids." "Yes, but that kid isn't getting interaction." "Okay, well, then we're going to go back to school." "No, you're going to kill our kids." "You know, we're going to do a hybrid." "You're putting too much on the teachers, and you're putting too much on the kids." Like, there's nothing they can do to win, at least in a county like Fairfax anyway, or maybe it's anywhere.
I'll stop talking now.
I just wanted to throw those out.
Oh, sorry, did have one other thing.
I'm going to be curious to see over time what happens to bullying in-person and cyber, how that trends over time with kids not being in-person.
>> And I have to say thank you.
It's always great to hear a parent perspective, and frankly, it's really wonderful to hear a positive school experience for a child who's been working remotely because I think there's been a lot of emphasis on all of the education that's been lost at this time, but hopefully not for all children, so that's really good to hear, and you also brought up a really important point, whether or not kids have been able to be part of their extracurricular activities I think makes a big difference on how they're handling this, particularly mental health-wise because, you know, they need those connections and there's other outlets because some kids, you know, school isn't their first choice.
It's all the other things that they do about school that they really, really look forward to, so I really appreciate you unmuting and sharing those perspectives.
Jennah, I see you're unmuted.
Do you have some information to share with us? And I see you have a little one with you, too.
>> Mama, Mama, Dada.
>> It's also, the baby likes to...
>> This is her only form of social interaction, so she can tell when I'm on meetings and she jumps up and demands to say hi, which is not why I unmuted.
I unmuted because we actually did...
>> The mama, daddy.
>> ...a wellness survey, or we called it a pulse-check survey internally on not just our students, but our parents and our staff as well, and one of the really interesting findings that we saw on it is that -- >> Wah! >> Shh. Because we asked, like, the staff how they report or how they feel or they observe their students, you know, doing or the families doing, and we also -- And then we asked the staff and the parents how they actually are doing, and we actually found that the staff tended to really severely overestimate how bad things are for their students and their families, so they were saying, like, "This is just so bad for them," you know, da-da-da-da-da, and then they come back, and you ask the students and the families, and they're like, "We're okay.
Like, we're getting by." You know, of course there are always certain families or certain, you know, whatever that are going to be having it really rough.
This is Nevada.
We are a tourism state.
Some parents haven't been working since last year, right? You know, we had a question on there about, have they ever -- how many times or how often in the last, you know, year have they been worried about the amount of food in their house, right? We also see that parents are doing -- We talk about how kids are really good at seeing through their parents' BS, like when they try to hide things from the kids, but the kids see it.
They know it.
They're not as gullible as we think they are, but on the flip side, they actually aren't seeing as much.
Parents are really good about hiding some things, right? And so, like, for me, it was, like, the food insecurity questions.
Most of the kids, the vast majority of them are like, "Nah, I haven't had to worry about food at all.
We've got plenty of food in the house," and then you see in the parents', while it's not a huge jump, more parents are reporting like, "Yeah, no, we've been worried about the amount of food in the house," so they are able to hide some of those concerns away from their kids, but, like, we also have our SafeVoice, our tip line reporting system where we are seeing kids going, "You know, I'm really worried.
My dad has been out of work," and, like, you start to see the domestic violence tick up.
You start to see reports on those kinds of things happening, and we also have a system called Handle with Care where police, when they are out doing their regular job, and they get, like, a DV call or a car accident or any of that just in the course of their normal day, and a child is present, they have to put in a Handle with Care tip into SafeVoice to notify the school that the child has been exposed to some kind of traumatic event, and so we saw a pretty sizable uptick on those, it felt like.
You'd have to ask Al for the raw data.
I am just on the user end, so a lot of it's just perception and feelings, so it felt like we were getting an uptick on, like, domestic violence calls because everyone was trapped at home during, you know, isolation, and it just exacerbated already existing issues and things along those lines, but a lot more anxiety, a lot more depression calls, but the pulse-check survey did show us that maybe some of it is us projecting onto our students our own worries and concerns, so that's what I wanted to pop in.
I appreciate that perspective.
Thank you so much, but you've also pointed out that it's really going to run the gamut, that some families are really struggling and others are doing okay, and we need to be prepared when kids do come back to school full-time that they're going to come back with all sorts of different feelings about what has happened during this time and whether they've suffered losses, that's going to need to be addressed, or whether, you know, they're still doing well and maybe don't understand some of their peers who will have suffered more than they have suffered, so we're all going to need to be sensitive to all of the ways that kids are going to exhibit their feelings when they do return full-time.
Who else has some input on what's been happening in your areas? My staff often reminds me that having been a mental health provider, I can sit through silence really long, but I know we only have 45 minutes today, so I'd really like to hear from some other folks.
I know some of the issues that we've heard of here in Colorado is how to safely distance kids in classrooms and distance them in ways that don't violate any of the fire codes that they have in their buildings.
We've heard about missing students that have not ever shown up again either in class or online since this has happened.
Jennah also referred to the fact that some kids are suffering food insecurity, and I know many of our schools have worked really hard to get breakfast and lunch out to kids, and that has been a major, major effort on many people's parts, so any of these ideas or anything else that you can think in your schools.
I am sure if you're seeing it in your school, someone else is experiencing it in their area as well.
So I see there's a question about how much bullying is happening online, and I know I sat in this morning on the presentation by the Nevada folks on their SafeVoice, and bullying is their number one complaint that comes through.
We used to have that as our number one complaint here in Colorado, but now ours is suicide ideation, unfortunately, so I'd love to hear a little bit more about the issue of bullying, particularly with kids being online, whether that seems to be an issue for any schools.
>> I can say that with our SafeVoice tips, we expected there to be a massive decline, and we have seen a pretty sharp decline in reporting, but the ratios are the same, like, the bullying to cyberbullying, you know, ratio is still the same, despite the fact that most everything is online.
What we did see is, because so many kids were spending that much more of their time interacting and engaging on social media platforms, we started getting multiple reports of same incidences of things that kids were bringing up.
About May-June, I think some students felt that they had enough distance time-wise and physical-wise to start opening up about certain things, so we had, like, this little sprout of -- and it's little, but, you know, this little sprout of students admitting online to having been harassed sexually or bullied or whatever in the years prior.
Like, they finally felt safe enough to just put it out there on the Internet, apparently, good old Generation Z, and what we would see is that we'd have, like, four or five students, like, just screencapping every post about it and putting in SafeVoice tips, like, "You guys need to investigate this.
You need to do something about this.
This happened at your school," and I was just like, it warmed my heart a little, but sheer number of bullying tips and cyberbullying tips did decrease just because there's not as much interaction to cause that, but the rate -- What was interesting is, you would think there would be more cyberbullying and less bullying, but the ratio stayed the same for us.
[ Music plays ] >> I don't think Jeff purposefully unmuted.
Jeff, did you -- I think that was a mistake.
Jennah, thank you.
You actually mentioned something that we've been hearing in Colorado where kids have been reporting online sexual assaults, but not reporting it to people who can really do something about it or investigate it so that we make sure that the victim gets served, and we make sure that anybody who's unjustly accused, their name is cleared, so it's interesting that it has happened in your state as well, and I've brought that up in some other national meetings, and I didn't hear a whole lot from other states that it was happening there, so we were concerned here because -- >> We actually -- Yeah, we actually had one instance where the school took it really seriously, even though the student had already graduated, like, the year before, and reached out and was like, "Hey, we want to do something about this.
We need an investigation.
Are you willing to tell us whatever?" And the student, because that student is not the one who put in the tip, other people saw her posting and put it in, was like, "Oh, oh, no, that was not my intention.
Like, I have moved past this personally and would not like to drudge it back up.
I was putting it out there so, like, other students, like, don't -- so they know it's not just them, but, like, no, personally, I would not like this investigated.
Goodbye." >> Yeah, that's difficult when somebody else outs you on those things.
Jen, did you want to add something? >> I was actually just curious.
Are you involved with Safe2Tell at all in Colorado? And I'm curious what's been going on with the activity levels there.
>> As you can imagine, the activity levels have been down since kids have not been in school, but still suicidal ideation is our number one call that comes through on Safe2Tell, unfortunately, here in Colorado.
Well, I guess the good news is the kids are reaching out and reporting that their friends are feeling suicidal, but it's still a huge issue here in Colorado that we keep trying to address.
And just -- >> I'm curious -- Oh, sorry.
>> Go ahead, Kelsey.
>> Well, I just had a question.
As more and more schools begin to reopen -- We've been, again, open this time, and our school administrators are the ones who have been responsible for all the contract tracing, which is just an over -- I mean, it's an unbelievable amount of time to contact, and so I'm just curious to see, as these schools reopen with the limited amounts of staff that schools have or they don't put into play that contract-tracing role, will the workload of the school administrators shift from being able to deal with school safety related issues because they're so busy dealing with the Department of Health contract tracing, you know, expectations and what that looks like long-term? Because I think you can easily see a whole entire day worth for a professional just contacting each student, each parent, making sure that they leave, making sure that -- because in some states, the Department of Health is overwhelmed, but I'm just curious to see what that looks like because, you know, what is most immediate, and at this time I think we would probably say it's the contract tracing.
>> That's really interesting.
How about some of the rest of you.
Are your schools actually the people responsible for contact tracing? And I have to admit that I had not heard about our school spending an inordinate amount of time contact tracing here in Colorado.
I think it's mainly been up to our Department of Health, so I'm not sure that our administrators are doing a lot of that, but that's really interesting in South Dakota.
One of the things I'm curious about is, how hard has it been to get students and staff members to wear masks in school? Can some of you share with us what that's looked like in your areas? >> I mean, at the state level we don't get to find out a lot of that because that's dealt with -- we're a very local-control state, so that's personnel issues.
I am also the state bus, school bus lady we say, the transportation director for the state, and I know I got -- I fielded a number of questions from a few of our more rural, more conservative districts where they were like, "Okay, but what if the bus driver doesn't want to wear any PPE?" And I'm like, "Well, I don't know.
What do you do with an employee who refuses to follow safety protocols?" Like, you're looking for the state to give you the okay to fire them is basically, like, they want to be able to come back and say, "Oh, the big bad state said you can't, you know, unless you wear this," which, you know, our governor happily did at some point, so but that's -- Our struggle has been a lot of getting the teachers back in in Clark County because they have a very strong teachers' union, and their teachers' union was adamant that their teachers should not take on additional risk, and that's their job, and I'm not in any way, you know, making a negative remark about that.
I have friends who are teachers in CCSD, and I don't want them at risk either, but yeah, actually, you know, a pushback from teachers about wearing them, we haven't heard anything up at our level.
>> And, Jennah, can -- I'm sorry.
I lost my voice there for a second.
Jennah, I'm curious.
Are the bus drivers complaining about the students not wearing masks on buses? >> I haven't heard much of that yet.
I think the kids are actually pretty decent about it, except for maybe some of the younger ones.
Also, Clark County, which is Las Vegas, accounts for about 60 to 65 percent of our student population, and they have been all virtual up until very, very, very recently, and I think actually other than a couple of very small populations of students who require a lot of additional support, like our medically fragile students or something like that, I don't think they have been transporting at all, so that also can account for the fact that, like, not enough of it is, you know, happening that it trickles up to our level because it's very, very few students we're still transporting.
>> Yeah, and are they starting to vaccinate teachers in your area? >> Nevada has moved -- Nevada has K-12 teachers in the tier one, so they should be able to access vaccinations.
I know our office was also lumped in with the K-12, which I have feelings about.
I do fine working from home.
I want to make sure the teachers get vaccinated.
Like, I still want my vaccination, but...
>> [ Speaks indistinctly ] >> ...not high enough risk.
I think there are plenty of people at higher risk than I am.
You know what I mean? But yeah, no, they are being vaccinated.
It's actually very easy to, from what my understanding in Vegas, to get vaccinated.
They have a setup at the UNLV School of Medicine in their parking lot.
You basically just show up with your pay stub as proof of your employment for education, and they give you a shot, and they give you a card that tells you when your next appointment is to come on by, so that's it, so -- >> That's really great.
I'm wondering for the rest of you, are your schoolteachers starting to get vaccinated? I know it's happening here in Colorado as well, which I'm very happy to see.
"Rural Kentucky, all teachers have been vaccinated." That's really good news from Allison, thank you, and Kelsey said that, "Initially vaccinated in February and now pushed back to the end of March, beginning of April." That's unfortunate.
>> And again, I'm in Nashville, Tennessee.
Other surrounding school districts and counties have started offering it to the students and staff.
I know several teachers who have driven 2 hours to rural counties because they currently are not able to get vaccinated within Davidson County.
>> Yeah, we've heard that there's been crossing county lines and state lines in some cases here as well for people to get vaccinated, which you can't blame them.
If they're high-risk, that makes perfect sense.
I know I'm like Jennah.
I'm content to stay working at home until there's enough vaccines for all the people that have to be out in the world, yes.
We have about 8 more minutes, and I am thinking that there's probably some issues that some of you wish you would hear how other people were handling them.
Feel free to put those in the chat room, in the chat box there.
Nadine has been monitoring that, and she's welcome to unmute herself if she sees anything that we should be talking about because I'm not really good at monitoring that while I'm also speaking, so, Nadine, any questions or issues that we should be addressing? >> Sure.
There's some good exchanges happening in the chat, so I really appreciate all of you guys participating.
One thing that came up that I thought was interesting is that, there seems to be a discussion about how kids are handling the social isolation of COVID and the remote-learning aspects, and so whether or not they're using other social media platforms to strengthen their social supports versus suffering from mental health issues in isolation, so I thought that was really interesting.
I mean, we have a question also from Baker, says, "Do most of your school districts' websites have a direct link for reporting bully and suicide threats and other issues?" Think that's, like, a tip line question, so whether or not anyone has sort of information about how these threats are reported in your district.
That's another interesting conversation that we can take up.
>> Thank you, Nadine, and did you see some ways that other students are connecting with their peers while they're not in school? >> Yeah, I think that Jen mentioned an online gaming platform that I'm going to blank on the name because I don't do those things, but -- >> "Minecraft." >> "Minecraft," yes, yeah, so gaming platforms, other social media websites or virtual platforms.
>> Sounds like a good idea, and how about tip lines? How are most school districts pushing out the tip lines? Are they linked on your websites? Of course I can't see hardly anybody's face to even see nodding of heads, so -- And I know that's how, in Colorado, most of our school districts have linked Safe2Tell on their websites, which is how we're hearing about so many suicidal ideations and some bullying and other issues that are coming up.
>> I had one question that I'll ask, and then I just thought we'd get into the chat, but I kind of, I'm wondering also in this era of COVID when kids are remote, how did the responses to the tips happen? So if there's, like, a bullying report or a self-harm report or a suicidal ideation report, how are those responded to, and is that different from what was happening in the pre-COVID days? >> That is a great question, Nadine, and I'll start the answer there because I know one of the things, particularly in cases of suicide, a lot of our mental health providers have been doing suicide assessments virtually with students.
In other cases, they have contacted local law enforcement and asked them to do a welfare check.
Some of our school districts, particularly last spring when they were really missing students who hadn't been either online or in-person, school staff members were going to houses and often taking a box of groceries or whatever with them so that it felt more like a welfare check and not a, you know, "Your student hasn't been online.
Where the heck is he?" But have just reached out to families that way, and I'm wondering how some of the rest of you have seen that transpire, especially when there's been concern about students.
Just a very quiet bunch here today.
I have a feeling they came into the call, and then they went and ate lunch or something and they're not really here.
>> Well, Christine, I think this is one -- Hi.
How are you? This is Allison.
I think one of the challenges is that a lot of us, as Anthony mentioned, are researchers, and so we're not always on the ground working directly in the schools.
We're hearing it through the work we do, so I feel like there's, like, 1,000 questions and such I have.
Like, I loved Anthony's question, and I would love to have, like, a 45-minute conversation with him about the effect of COVID on research questions and stuff.
We just started some work with CDC to do two demo projects, which actually a lot of you on the call are people I'm probably going to be reaching out to to try to find sites, school districts that are doing innovative work in mental health and in school connectedness during COVID to try to understand, like, "What's working?' So, like, you know, we're hearing all about the challenges right now, but there's some really amazing thing setting on, and so we want to invite sites that want to be part of this project to share what they're learning and to try to implement those strategies effectively and to try to evaluate and develop some evidence for it, but yeah, like, a lot of the questions you're asking, I mean, I'm hearing anecdotally, but I'm not the on-the-ground educator, so they're harder for me to answer.
>> Thank you, Allison.
I think you're right.
I think there's probably lots and lots of social scientists on right now who don't have the answers to these things, but are really curious about what's happening in the schools.
>> When we came back at the beginning of the school year, I would say overwhelmingly the majority of my students were so happy to be back.
They had missed their friends.
They had missed the school environment, and, you know, they were just -- And we were all really happy to be back, and we're, you know, what, 100 days into the school year, and I think that excitement is still there.
I know there's some apprehension moving towards the 1-year anniversary, and if that might be something that we see happen again with the new variations, but I cannot speak for how amazing being face-to-face with a group of students is versus being remote.
I mean, I think we have learned that face-to-face instruction is so valuable and that it can't be replicated in an online environment maybe ever, but definitely not in a really quick way that's expected to really meet all those learning targets, but it's been -- I mean, while it's been a challenge, there's nothing to be said about being with your kids, you know, face-to-face.
I teach American Government, so it was an election year, so, I mean, oh, my god, it was so perfect, but -- >> Really good point, Kelsey, because we've heard that as well, how excited kids and staff are when they're finally back in school and they can see one another, and it's so hard not to hug when they're seeing their friends again, which is so true.
Nadine, I'm going to turn it back over to you to kind of wrap it up for us because I see that our time is almost up today.
>> All right.
Thank you, Chris.
>> Thank you, everybody, who came on and those of you in particular who participated.
>> All right.
Thank you, Chris.
I just did want to point out there's one more comment that Nancy mentioned related to the tips and follow-ups.
She said, "Most of the tips for self-harm for our virtual students come from our e-mail monitor system and the difficult challenge is following up," and I think that probably a lot of people can relate to that difficult challenge of following up when students report those self-harm tips, so thank you, Nancy, for sharing that.
Everyone else, thank you so much for being a part of this roundtable.
Thank you for everybody that participated through the chat and virtually.
It was great to see your faces, just as we've just been talking about, we would've liked this conference to be in person and be able to engage in these conversations one-on-one, but we'd have to pivot, just as everybody else in the country has had to pivot as a result of COVID-19, so we're going to have a 15-minute break, and then we're going to move on to our next set of breakout discussions, and so feel free to move around and then hopefully join us for our next set of sessions.
Thank you, everybody, for being a part of this roundtable.
Thank you especially to Chris Harms for leading our discussion.
We really appreciate you, and everybody have a great rest of your afternoon.
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