Trauma-Informed Schools Update

May 15, 2020
Meeting Updates
Next meeting - June 11
Mark your calendar and register now for the June 11 meeting of the Trauma-Informed Schools workgroup. We will continue the discussion of how to evaluate the social-emotional and security needs of students and staff and resources we can share across districts to support a trauma-informed re-entry to school.

Meeting Summary - May 14
Many thanks to everyone who joined the online Trauma-Informed Schools meeting on May 14. We had around 50 participants during the meeting.
Update: Trauma-Informed Schools and Districts Survey (Cyndie Meyer)
With input from this work group, ESD 112 and experts at most local school districts, Public Health developed a survey tool for all schools and districts in Clark County. This survey will provide a snapshot of the approaches and policies currently in place and will help inform resources and supports going forward. We hope that districts will participate in the survey this spring.

How are schools faring/responding during COVID-19? (Break out rooms)

Although COVID-19 has presented challenges, it has also brought new learning and positive consequences:
  • We are gaining new insight into how kids learn.
  • Educators and schools are gaining online skills.
  • We are exploring new ways of connecting with families and connecting families to one another.
  • There are no suspensions or expulsions, and children who had experienced bullying are finding school at home to be a safe haven.
  • Some families are growing closer and spending more time bonding.

Challenges that schools and students are facing include:
  • Significant potential trauma as a result of COVID - potential for parental job loss, family economic instability, unpredictability, isolation, domestic violence and child abuse.
  • As Lee Collyer of OSPI stated: "My fear is that we are going to try to discipline our way out of trauma." Schools need a much more thorough understanding of how trauma impacts behavior and learning in children and how to support students who have experienced toxic stress or trauma during COVID.
  • Increased potential for separation anxiety in the fall.
  • Insufficient mental health supports now and in the future for both staff and families/students.
  • Reluctance to reach out for mental health support online.
  • Non-English speaking families particularly at-risk of isolation and disconnection from services and school.
  • Concerns about lagging academics: Many schools report only 20 -30 percent of students are reporting for on-line classes - worse in upper grades.
  • Families are hungry.
  • Difficult to detect child abuse early.
  • Concern about distancing and sanitation requirements for schools and Early Learning when they resume on-site.
Featured Discussion:
Child Abuse and Neglect During COVID-19

Amy Russell, executive director for the Children's Justice Center, discussed child abuse and mandatory reporting during COVID.

Because children are not attending school or other activities where potential abuse may be identified, reports of child abuse are down by 50 percent. However, experts suspect abuse may be higher than ever:
  • Online exploitation of children is up 100 percent since COVID started
  • Reports from emergency rooms indicate injuries from abuse are more extensive and extreme
  • Domestic Violence has increased, which is traumatic for children who are present or who may intervene

Recent data indicates that children at greatest risk of abuse are those who have:
  • Disabilities (4 - 6 times the risk of abuse)
  • Lack of connection
  • Three or more siblings
  • Increased mental health needs, a history of suicide attempts, self-harm, depression or past sexual or physical abuse

What you can do
  • Watch for signs of potential abuse such as bruises, burns or injuries, or signs of neglect, such as being inappropriately dressed for the weather, being alone, dirty, or hungry, when connecting with students on-line

  • Report suspected abuse to Region 6 hotline: (866) 764-2233 or to the

  • Washington state reporting hotline: (866) 363-4276
For Continued Discussion: Preparing Now for School Re-entry Next Fall
Teresa Vance, director of social-emotional learning at Ridgefield Public Schools, introduced a discussion about how we might work together across districts to prepare for the challenge of welcoming children who have experienced high levels of stress or trauma when they return to school in the fall.

Possible ideas for collaboration:
  • Identify and share regional or state-wide resources for staff, student and family training on brain development, trauma, self-regulation and resilience.
  • Establish SEL competency guidelines for teachers and staff and identify baseline and next step training resources.
  • Create an assessment tool to identify student/family stressors, losses and trauma during COVID to help schools better address social-emotional readiness, basic needs, and specific trauma responses.

T his discussion will continue at the June 11 meeting .
Resources shared in the meeting
Whether in preparation for our next meeting, or to enrich your knowledge base, you may wish to explore one or more of the following resources:
Register now for a free two-part webinar on " Regulation before Education ", which will discuss how school leaders can embrace the whole child approach in preparing to meet student's needs during the COVID response next fall. Register here.
The Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE), which is affiliated with the Council on Exceptional Children, offers COVID response-related webinars and resources for schools.

Jerry Clark shared the following points from the May 12, 2020 webinar, moderated by CASE director Heath Peine. The link to this webinar will soon be available for viewing at the link above.

The number one priority needs to be RECONNECTING with students and establishing safe, trusted relationships.
Then, 5 key considerations:
  1. Where are students in their academic, social-emotional and behavioral learning? Assess/audit
  2. Where do we want students to be? High-level, key goals and priority outcomes
  3. How do we close the gap with the most high-impact interventions and core instructional strategies?
  4. Are we on target to meet those goals? Scheduled progress monitoring
  5. Did the efforts work for each learner? Equity audit!

He encouraged schools to NOT rush into providing supplemental supports or assume that all students need the same thing. An audit is key to designing the right approach
Top three highest impact strategies:
  1. Collective efficacy of teachers—impactful, powerful instruction is most important in all areas, including Social-Emotional Learning.
  2. Measuring the response to interventions (relies on audit and progress monitoring)
  3. Classroom discussions (relationships)
Alia Jackson, president of 321 Insight, shared a link to free resources and videos available on their blog site here . Alia will share more at our June meeting.
Angel Escobado shared this link to an article on child abuse during COVID-19.
Jerry Clark shared this link from PAVE with tips to help children and families stay regulated while home schooling during COVID-19 .
Rheta Rubenstein shared a link to two videos for young children and models for parents by Susan Linn, a child psychologist. The videos feature a puppet, Audrey the Duck, discussing COVID-19.
Sound Discipline, the trainers who have provided numerous trauma-informed workshops for schools in Clark County, offers tips for educators and parents in their regular blog. You can subscribe here and feel free to share with students' families.
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