Experts agree that students are in a mental health crisis as a result of the pandemic. According to a recent Chegg study, nearly a quarter of high-school and college students know someone who has had suicidal thoughts, and more than a third reported experiencing depression during the pandemic. In response, schools and districts across the country are placing increased focus on providing social and emotional support to their students.
In Louisiana, Governor Edwards provided social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum to all schools and districts across the state. Jenene Bignar, Supervisor of Special Education for LaSalle Parish, said she was grateful for this targeted SEL curriculum. “Our department works with students with special needs, including students needing social and emotional support, and I am extremely grateful for the governor giving us access to this [SEL program].”
LaSalle Parish is a small district in rural Louisiana with limited resources, so this SEL curriculum filled a need. “This is a great resource for schools,” Bignar said, “We only have two social workers and no behavioral strategists, so this targeted SEL curriculum gives us the means to provide support to students, teachers, and parents.”
The social workers at LaSalle Parish are currently using the curriculum to intervene with students that could benefit from social–emotional support. They appreciate that they can assign specific modules on various topics that target their students’ needs. “The curriculum is user-friendly,” said Bignar, “and I appreciate that it’s not just videos but in-depth questions that check for understanding.” Plus, the students have access to the coursework at home, which is important to Bignar and her team as the lessons cover personal topics that the students may not feel comfortable discussing at school.
While they are currently using the curriculum as an intervention solution when they identify students with a need, they hope to continue having access to the curriculum in the future. Cost is a factor, but the governor’s funding has made this a possibility this year. “We are exploring different funding options for next year,” said Bignar, “I believe the curriculum is a valuable asset that will prove beneficial to teachers, staff, and parents.”
Businesswire. (2020, September 10). Nearly a quarter of US college and high school students know someone who has had suicidal thoughts during COVID-19 pandemic, according to new Chegg survey. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200910005349/en/Nearly-a-Quarter-of-US-College-and-High-School-Students-Know-Someone-Who-Has-Had-Suicidal-Thoughts-During-Covid-19-Pandemic-According-to-New-Chegg-Survey