During the pandemic, many students, staff, and families have experienced trauma. Almost all students have been abruptly taken out of their daily routines of spending time at school and learning in a face-to-face environment. However, schools and districts are likely unaware of other traumatic experiences that students and staff may have faced. These include the loss of a loved one, institutional racism, community violence, school shootings, parental incarceration, divorce of parents, mental illness of parents/caregivers, and substance abuse in the home. Traumatic experiences can have a lifelong effect on learning and may negatively impact academic achievement. Within the school setting, the negative impact of trauma on students may lead to poor concentration, declining academic performance, school absenteeism, and drop out. These challenges create barriers for the success of students in the academic setting. Due to the pandemic, students of all races and socioeconomic statuses may be impacted by trauma. It is imperative for educators to be aware of the impact of trauma within the academic setting. Below are practices to use within K-12 settings to promote a trauma-sensitive school climate.
- Assess how students feel when it comes to safety and promote the importance of safety among students in the academic setting.
- Understand trauma and its impact specifically on the diverse populations of students and families served within the school.
- Avoid re-traumatizing students and families.
- Provide system-wide trauma-informed care support from other educators, administrators, and other supports within the academic setting. Allow students to share their voices to empower them in the academic setting.
- Encourage relationships between students and staff to promote a positive school climate.
- Promote cultural competence among staff to ensure that students are being supported from a trauma-informed perspective.
- Create a safe environment for students to thrive. By asking students their thoughts about what safety looks and feels like in the school setting (face-to-face or virtually), environments can be better built to help students feel safe.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of Adverse Childhood Experiences
- ChildTrauma Academy
- George Lucas Educational Foundation Trauma-Informed Care Video Series
- Harvard University Center on the Developing Child
- Neurosequential Network COVID-19 Resources
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- Trauma Sensitive Schools