School staffs adjusting to manage students amid constant flux in learning conditions

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – “We are really having to get creative in how we reach out to our students. We want to make sure that they still feel like they’re part of our school family.”

It’s been nine months since students have had consistent interaction, five days a week, with teachers peers while in school. Due to the inconsistent and difficult circumstances, there’s been an increase in attention placed on emotional support for students.

“We’ve had to really focus on the overall well-being of the kids rather than just their academic success,” said Beckley-Stratton Middle School Social Worker Ashley Hawkins. “So we’ve provided a lot more mental health services this year. That’s been done virtually just to make sure that our kids are staying positive and uplifted throughout this whole process.”

School staffs have been forced to adjust on the fly in order to figure out the most effective ways to provide for students.

“They’ve really adapted well and fast, because there wasn’t a lot of time,” said Community and Schools Student Success Liaison Emily Hedinger. “They had to quickly get on their feet and figure out what they were doing. And they have got it going on. We’re all just coming together as a team to support each other so we can support our students efficiently.”

When students have been on fully remote learning, social workers have been emphasizing different interactions to replace the consistency of an in school routine.

“One thing that we have done differently is more constant check-ins,” Hawkins said. “We have several students who also don’t have internet services. We live in a very rural area and a lot of places don’t have internet. We’ll just go out to their homes, we’ll deliver homework to them. We’ll talk to them, make sure they’re understanding their work.”

It’s been a group effort to foster one on one communication with students throughout the semester, and that communication will remain essential even when students are back in person.

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