The stress, uncertainty, and difficult circumstances created by the threat of COVID-19 are difficult for families. When people
are facing stress and difficult life circumstances, it can particularly affect three areas: a sense of safety, feelings of connect-
edness, and feelings of hope. A sense of safety is the belief that an individual’s needs—and the needs of those they care
about—will be met. It is a belief that one will be protected from harm. For the many families that are experiencing or will
experience significant income loss, this crisis may also mean food insecurity or an inability to pay rent and bills. And all of
these are losses can severely damage a child’s sense of safety. Connectedness refers to having relationships with others
who make one feel understood and supported. Since social distancing has been instituted and most public places have been
closed, educators have become primary contacts and have been quite creative in helping students feel connected. Finally,
hope is the expectation that everything will work out and the feeling that things will be all right. Right now, many people may
be feeling discouraged, hopeless, or angry. Schools can play a key role in educating students and families about the impact
of safety, connectedness, and hope during these times and offering skills and resources to help.
Educators and school staff
Educators and school staff can consider the following strategies during this time, to help students and families strengthen
their sense of safety, connectedness, and hope:
- Reach out, provide space, and encourage students to connect with educators or other trusted adults or counselors to
talk about their safety concerns. Offer students a way to connect privately if there is something that they need help
with or are worried about.
- Encourage students to talk to friends or family members on the phone or via
- Suggest that families maintain as much of a regular routine as possible, and
plan family activities such as going for walks or hikes or playing board or
video games together. Make time to ask students about something fun they
are doing right now.
- Greet students by name and create a touch-free or virtual routine (similar to
a handshake, a hug or a high five) to invite connection, either online or at
- Consider putting students together in small groups to work on projects or ac-
tivities online or by phone. Solving virtual puzzles or doing online scavengerhunts are good examples.
- Have students contact a person in their family or community that they re-
spect and ask that person how they stayed hopeful in troubled times, thenask the student to share what they learned.
- Teach about other historical times of crisis, including how these ended and how communities rebounded.
- Encourage students to get fresh air and to move when possible.
- Share some of the many stories of hope and helping that have come out of this current crisis.
- Share a positive affirmation or a student’s strength—it can go a long way right now.
- Let students know that people find help in different ways, including through spiritual beliefs and practices, and encour-
age students to discuss things that bring them hope.
- Engage students and families in creating rituals and celebrations for the end of the school year.
Administrators can consider the following strategies during this time, to help students and families strengthen their sense of
safety, connectedness, and hope:
- Utilize community partnerships and enlist the services of telecommuni-
cation companies to help ensure that all students have access to theinternet and to a device where they can connect to their classroom.
- Communicate the importance of safety, connectedness, and hope to the
district’s educators, staff, and families, and share strategies they can
employ to strengthen these areas.
- Consider these three areas for school staff, and allow opportunities for
them to suggest ways that the school and district can help to increase
their own sense of safety, connectedness, and hope during this crisis.
- Consider hosting staff meet-ups or coffee breaks, and supporting ways
for different groups of staff and educators to meet in small groups.
- Provide opportunities for staff to share gratitude about others, their ex-
periences at home, or any other relevant experiences that may sparkhope in others.
- Engage teachers, staff, and community members in planning for the future, including returning to school in the fall and
commemorating milestones, such as graduation or changing schools.