How can your district put stimulus funding into action to enhance the look and feel of education in the post-COVID-19 era? How might you resource your longer-term visions with short-term funding? And how can educators support student well-being as we move forward? School districts have a lot to consider when it comes to making the transition back to the classroom—not just for students, but also for educators.
Both students and educators are dealing with more than ever mentally. The pandemic has brought forth incredible strength in addressing unprecedented challenges. It is now time to get in the minds of these leaders and learn how to thrive in extreme disruption.
Along with understanding the needs and opportunities for leaders in education, the minds of students is also a top priority. According to The New York Times, “adolescent suicide during the pandemic cannot conclusively be linked to school closures; national data on suicides in 2020 have yet to be compiled. One study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the percentage of youth emergency room visits that were for mental health reasons had risen during the pandemic. The actual number of those visits fell, though researchers noted that many people were avoiding hospitals that were dealing with the crush of coronavirus patients. And a compilation of emergency calls in more than 40 states among all age groups showed increased numbers related to mental health.”
All of these statistics and data point to the fact that the United States is still in crisis mode when it comes to addressing student social and emotional learning. The stimulus funds provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put a focus (and funds) toward mental health challenges—and moving the nation from a crisis situation to one that focuses on prevention by investing in students every day in real time. It will be tempting for districts to add more core academics to address learning loss, but if students aren’t in the right place mentally coming back, the instruction will be done in vain. The funds can also be used to develop leadership and create a pipeline of educators who can thrive in adverse conditions.
There are so many funding streams flowing into education, and it is critical to think about this money holistically, not in funding silos. It is obvious districts are feeling the impact of the additional funds, and many are hoping that scarcity will no longer be the ruling principle.
This is the time for districts to be bold. District leaders should be looking at strategic plans with every decision made on how these funds should be spent. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to truly rethink education and prioritize, along with putting a long-term budget plan in place.
Want to learn more? I joined Dr. Kecia Ray and Dr. Frances Gipson for Gaggle’s Mind, Mission, and Money webinar. Watch the recording for a lively discussion about student mental health, education funding, and the future of learning in the post-pandemic era.