Student Well-Being

What’s In, What’s Out for Student and Educator Wellness

By Alyson Klein & Arianna Prothero — January 04, 2023 1 min read
Image of a student holding a mask and a backpack near the entrance of a classroom.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Schools have spent the past few years dealing with a global viral pandemic, what experts have called a “parallel” pandemic for teen mental health, and the teacher and principal burnout that have stemmed in part from the burdens both these crises have placed on educators.

What will 2023—and beyond—have in store? Here’s a look at what’s “in” (hot and relevant) and “out” (becoming less relevant or falling out of favor) when it comes to taking care of the physical and social and emotional needs of students and educators.

1. Supporting teacher mental health


2. Why is everyone sick?

  • OUT ❌

    The COVID pandemic: We know, COVID is still here and will likely stay. And child COVID vaccination rates vary widely by state, from 17 percent in Alabama to 77 percent in the District of Columbia. But COVID-19 isn’t the only major illness around anymore.

    IN ✔️

    The “tripledemic": COVID isn’t the only virus to worry about. Annual peaks for RSV—respiratory syncytial virus—and the flu hit earlier than anticipated. Part of the problem: Immunity may be down after years of mask-wearing and isolation. “All kids of all ages are getting sick right now with so many circulating viruses. It’s really taking a toll on schools as kids are missing days sick and sharing germs with friends even before they show symptoms,” said Tanya Altmann, a California-based pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Teachers are also getting sick more frequently, which places an additional burden on the schools, she added.


3. Coping with student trauma related to the pandemic

  • OUT ❌

    Adjusting to in-person learning: When schools returned to in-person learning after months or even an entire year of mostly virtual classes, many students spent the year remembering how to behave around other kids their age, follow school rules, and cope with having less autonomy over their schedule than they may have had at home. This school year, that hasn’t been as much of a concern, educators say. “I think there’s a thirst for structure,” said Ashley Wright, a school counselor at Gordon-Reed Elementary School near Houston in a recent interview. “They just haven’t had it firmly, consistently.”

    IN ✔️

    The long-term impact on students: It’s becoming increasingly clear that the pandemic may have a lasting impact on the mental health of an entire generation of students. Case-in-point: Compared to teenagers coming of age before the pandemic, those who experienced 10 months of lockdowns in 2020 showed three to four years of premature aging, according to new research. At this point, it’s too early to tell whether the shift is temporary or permanent, but either way, schools should be paying close attention to anxiety, depression, and stress in teens, researchers say.


4. COVID mitigation policies

  • OUT ❌

    Universal mask mandates: In spring 2022, schools started to shed their masking mandates. By October, the school policy tracking website, Burbio, reported that no schools had masking mandates and that it would no longer track the issue.

    IN ✔️

    Targeted masking: But masks aren’t entirely gone. With a surge in RSV and flu infections combined with COVID-19, some districts and schools have recently reinstated temporary masking requirements to help prevent student and staff absences. And in Virginia, parents of immunocompromised children with disabilities won a court case to require that their children’s classmates and teachers be required to wear masks.


5. Social-emotional learning

  • OUT ❌

    SEL jargon: This one is a bit of a bold prediction. A recent Education Week poll found that most educators view social-emotional learning favorably and the biggest barrier to incorporating it into the classroom is time, not parental or community pushback. But over the past two years, social-emotional learning has gotten caught up in larger political battles over education, and a 2021 poll by the Fordham Foundation found that while social-emotional skills are popular with parents, the phrase social-emotional learning is not. So, with the term SEL becoming more politized, while many of the skills that SEL fosters remain popular with parents, educators, and business leaders, maybe SEL is in for a rebranding in 2023? Life skills, anyone?

    IN ✔️

    Social-emotional skills: Eighty-six percent of educators in a recent EdWeek Research Center poll said that their school or district teaches social-emotional learning. Combined with the heightened emotional needs of students coming out of the pandemic, it’s safe to say that teaching skills like managing emotions and setting goals will remain important in 2023.

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
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 Achievement Webinar
Mission Possible: Saving Time While Improving Student Outcomes
Learn how district leaders are maximizing instructional time and finding the best resources for student success through their MTSS framework.
Content provided by Panorama Education
Reading & Literacy K-12 Essentials Forum Writing and the Science of Reading
Join us for this free event as we highlight and discuss the intersection of reading and writing with Education Week reporters and expert guests.

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 Millions of Students May Lose Medicaid Coverage. Schools Can Help Them Stay Enrolled
School communications could be critical to keeping millions of children's coverage from lapsing.
4 min read
Image of a stethoscope and notebooks.
iStock/Getty
Student Well-Being Leader To Learn From A 'Saleslady' Got One District to Prioritize Students' Mental Health
Over the past decade, Andria Amador has reshaped mental health in the Boston school district with a commitment to prevention over reaction.
9 min read
Andria Amador, Senior Director of Behavioral Health Services for Boston Public Schools, holds out a bucket to Veda Peteet, 3, Zara Peteet, 5, and Tom Peteet, 40, while hosting a table at Building Balance, a mental health event at the Museum of Science in Boston, Mass., on Jan. 21, 2023.
Andria Amador, the senior director of behavioral health services for Boston Public Schools, with Veda Peteet, 3, Zara Peteet, 5, and Tom Peteet, 40, during a mental health event at the Museum of Science in Boston, Mass.
Sophie Park for Education Week
Student Well-Being Photo Essay PHOTOS: Mental Health and a Day at the Museum
EdWeek photographer Sophie Park reflects on her day with Andria Amador, a 2023 Leaders To Learn From honoree.
1 min read
Families pass by a table hosted by Andria Amador, Senior Director of Behavioral Health Services for Boston Public Schools, at Building Balance, a mental health event at the Museum of Science in Boston, Mass., on January 21, 2023.
Families walk past a table staffed by Andria Amador, the senior director of behavioral health services at Boston public schools, during Building Balance, a mental health event at the Museum of Science in Boston, Mass.
Sophie Park for Education Week
Student Well-Being Q&A Schools Can Transform Student Mental Health. Here's How One District Leader Did It
Andria Amador teamed up with a renowned hospital and university to build a pipeline of mental health workers for the Boston school district.
5 min read
Andria Amador, Senior Director of Behavioral Health Services for Boston Public Schools, stands for a portrait before hosting a table at Building Balance, a mental health event at the Museum of Science in Boston, Mass. on January 21, 2023.
Andria Amador, the senior director of behavioral health services in Boston, created a unique partnership with a local hospital, university, and community groups to create a mental health corps trained to meet students' needs.
Sophie Park for Education Week