COVID-19: Region 14 parents increasingly concerned for kids’ emotional well being

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COVID-19: Region 14 parents increasingly concerned for kids’ emotional well being

BY STEVE BIGHAM REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

 

WOODBURY — Parents in Region 14 said they are increasingly concerned for their childrens’ emotional well being as the social isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic approaches its third month.

About a third of those responding to a district survey said their child’s emotional well being was deemed “worse” since schools have been closed, school officials told the Board of Education at its regular meeting Monday night.

“This really concerns me,” Wendy Nelson Kauffman, the school district’s director of teaching & learning, told the board. “Adolescents and teens are social beings, just like all of us, and they really need to be around their peers.”

Kauffman said survey results showed that for parents “the novelty has worn off” with distance learning. She said parents and students are tired and said the district’s decision to move the last day of school up a week was a good idea.

Region 14 established a new RULER program designed to help staff become more in tune with the emotional and social needs of students. The goal of the research-backed program is to create better academic performance by improving the quality of classroom interactions among students and teachers.

On Tuesday, staff members began what Superintendent Joseph Olzacki called a stress debriefing for teachers, too.

“If we’re going to properly teach our kids, we have to take care of our teachers,” Olzacki said.

The best remedy for students and staff is to eventually get students back in school, he said, with state officials telling Olzacki to be prepared to open in September. And while the future remains cloudy, Olzacki said his district is getting ready for what lies ahead.

School in the fall could be a hybrid, distance learning approach or split sessions with half the students attending school one day and the other half the next. And, Olzacki said, schools are being told to prepare to close schools in favor of distance learning after Thanksgiving, a move already taken by multiple colleges in the area including Central Connecticut State University, Trinity and the University of Hartford.

Olzacki said Region 14 schools will look much different next year with students possibly having to wear masks and, when it comes to physical education, there will not be a ball in sight. Federal health guidelines are saying there can be no touching of any sporting equipment.

“We’ll be doing more running, more sprinting and more calisthenics,” Olzacki said.