Opinion
Student Well-Being Letter to the Editor

Schools Need More to Face Trauma

July 13, 2020 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

We are writing to offer additional considerations related to the opinion essay “Police Violence and COVID-19 Have Been Traumatizing. Here Are Tools That Can Help Schools” (June 16, 2020). While the essay offers an overview of research on trauma with a focus on how schools can identify and respond to children who have been affected, it is missing attention to necessary systems for effective implementation.

Author Heather C. Hill appropriately identifies that reactions to trauma will be individually determined and recommends that restarting school should include screening for exposure and symptoms. Although screening may be appropriate, effective screening procedures must involve more than adapting a particular instrument and having students complete it without having supports available to avoid retraumatization. The systems supporting appropriate data use and response are equally, if not more, important.

With tighter budgets and ever-expanding lists of decisions that need prioritizing, schools must think carefully before engaging in any new assessment practices. They need to ask critical questions, including what data are needed to inform response, what data are already available, and how to prepare staff for identification and response roles.

We also agree that trauma-informed response must attend to both staff and student needs. An emotionally safe environment is critical to successful recovery and will not happen if staff are not ready and able to support students. We recommend relying heavily on existing frameworks for tiered service delivery with emphasis on strengthening core services based on community context.

Core services must have relationships at their center but should extend beyond teacher-student relationships to adult-adult, adult-student, and student-student in coordinated partnerships across school, family, and community.

We strongly recommend that schools engage their existing multitiered frameworks for identification and response, focusing efforts on strengthening the role of every staff member in identification and response to trauma.

Sandra M. Chafouleas

Licensed Psychologist

Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor

Neag School of Education

University of Connecticut

Storrs, Conn.

Jeana Bracey

Associate Vice President of School and Community Initiatives

Child Health and Development Institute

Farmington, Conn.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the July 15, 2020 edition of Education Week as Schools Need More to Face Trauma

Events

School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Cellphone Headaches in Middle Schools: Why Policies Aren't Enough
Middle schoolers' developmental stage makes them uniquely vulnerable to the negative aspects of cellphones. Policies alone won't help.
6 min read
A student holds a cell phone during class at Bel Air High School in Bel Air, Md., on Jan. 25, 2024.
A student holds a cellphone during class at Bel Air High School in Bel Air, Md., on Jan. 25, 2024.
Jaclyn Borowski/Education Week
Student Well-Being Teachers Want Parents to Step Up to Curb Cellphone Misuse. Are They Ready?
A program from the National PTA aims to partner with schools to give parents resources on teaching their children healthy tech habits.
5 min read
Elementary students standing in line against a brick wall using cellphones and not interacting.
iStock/Getty
Student Well-Being Schools Feel Less Equipped to Meet Students' Mental Health Needs Than a Few Years Ago
Less than half of public schools report that they can effectively meet students’ mental health needs.
4 min read
Image of a student with their head down on their arms, at a desk.
Olga Beliaeva/iStock/Getty
Student Well-Being Download How to Spot and Combat Student Apathy: A Teacher Resource
A guide to help teachers recognize and address apathy in the classroom.
1 min read
Student reading at a desk with their head on their hand.
Canva