The Covid-19 virus has uprooted students from their schools, made them social hostages in their homes and human guinea pigs in a remote learning experiment. We cannot know how long this period will last or when a second wave of the virus returns, but the apprehension and anxiety, especially when compounded by a devastated economy, is likely to last for a long time.
Many teenagers are confused, angry and vulnerable. Some of them will channel their stress outwardly through online aggression, such as cyberbullying, or inwardly to alcohol, drugs and depression. Safe Schools has two initiatives to help students and schools.
As a first step, Safe Schools is organizing a series of Zoom forums and discussion groups to connect students to each other, gather their personal stories during this social isolation and explore ways to make the remote classroom work better. The first Zoom group highlighted themes of connection, community and hope.
Ask any student what they miss most about being away from school and they will say their friends. They need that connection. They also need to know they’re not alone. That they’re part of a larger community. That there are others out there who have it worse. That there are things they can do for themselves and for others.
Another series of Zoom groups will focus on improving remote learning. Students and teachers in separate groups and from different schools and different states will share insights about what works (and doesn’t) in an online classroom.
We are producing a short documentary film to capture this moment in students’ lives and to offer lessons and insights that will help prepare schools in the event of a second wave of the virus and another round of remote learning. It will be filmed and edited by Atlantic Media Productions, documentary filmmakers, and will be available for free to schools.