Opinion
Student Well-Being Letter to the Editor

Schools Need More to Face Trauma

July 13, 2020 1 min read

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 & District Management Live Event Education Week Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
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
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
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
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education

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

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
Student Well-Being Whitepaper
The Complete Guide to SEL
This guide illustrates why SEL is more important now and what you should look for when implementing a social-emotional curriculum.
Content provided by Navigate360
Student Well-Being How Educators Are Approaching Summer Learning This Year
After a difficult year, schools adjust what's best for students as they customize summer learning, enrichment, and play opportunities.
9 min read
Image of kids with backpacks running outdoors.
iStock/Getty
Student Well-Being Cardona Releases First Wave of Aid to Help Schools Identify, Assist Homeless Students
Citing the urgency of identifying homeless students, the Education Department will release some relief aid targeted at their needs.
3 min read
Rycc Smith welcomes Montello Elementary School students as they board his bus outside the Lewiston, Maine school after the first day back in nearly a month on Jan. 21, 2021. The entire school district switched to all remote learning after an uptick in COVID-19 cases last month.
Elementary school students board a bus in Lewiston, Maine, after their first day back to in-person school in nearly a month on Jan. 21. Advocates say it has been more difficult to identify homelessness during remote learning, in part because they can't track changes in students' use of school transportation.
Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal via AP
Student Well-Being Spotlight Spotlight on Post-Pandemic Communications
In this Spotlight, review lessons from other leaders, evaluate what can be done to address the situations experienced and more.