Addressing the educational impacts of trauma

Learning Differences

23 September 2021

(c) Laura Romanosky

Many LDP partners recognised the additional mental and physical stress facing students and families, compounding the challenges of remote schooling with anxiety and isolation caused by community shutdowns, increased economic instability, and racial unrest throughout the US. Midway through the year, school social workers reported that a majority of their students needed serious mental health support in the wake of the pandemic and school closures. Among parents of students with special needs, nearly half had serious concerns about their children’s mental health.

The US-based Lesley Institute for Trauma Sensitivity (LIfTS) offered guidance to states and school districts on how to re-open schools in trauma-sensitive ways. Whether schools sought to support students remotely or resume in-person instruction during the pandemic, LIfTS advised that “nurturing a climate and culture of trust and caring will pay big dividends in students’ abilities to learn.” In response to needs of school leaders across the US, LIfTS shared guidance on how to build supportive environments for learning and student wellbeing. Its free webinars helped educators across the country understand the dynamics of trauma, its adverse effects on learning, and how traumasensitive schools can benefit all children, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Oak Foundation is proud to support LIfTS and many other partners who quickly pivoted to respond to the new and urgent needs presented by the pandemic for students with learning differences, particularly those furthest from opportunity. As school systems in the US and around the globe continue to grapple with the impacts of this unprecedented disruption to traditional education, we hope that the work highlighted here can inspire greater equity and access to meaningful educational opportunities for all children. Read more about the work of our Learning Differences Programme partners here.

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