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Staffing Shortages + School Closures; Mental Health Concerns for Children; a Talk on Ed + Housing

This weekly segment by Democrats for Education Reform CT looks at the top education stories Democrats are watching, providing bite-sized analysis and links to recent articles. On the roster this week: Staffing Shortages Drive School Closures, Mental Health Concerns Rise for Children, and Join Us Tomorrow to Talk Education and Housing!

Staffing Shortages Drive School Closures

Last Friday, Bridgeport Superintendent Michael Testani made the difficult decision to suspend in-person learning starting November 23rd for at least three weeks in the state’s largest school district, acknowledging the rise in COVID-19 and staffing shortages. Districts have cited a lack of staff coverage (including substitutes, support staff and aides) in school buildings due to increased faculty requiring quarantine. Some schools already have set a mid-January date to return for in-person learning. Bridgeport is one of several school districts to announce turning to an all-remote model in the coming weeks. This list also includes Shelton, Ansonia and Hamden. To maintain quality for it’s students, Bridgeport will require all teachers to report to the school buildings during the shutdown for the scheduled school day and present remote instruction for students live from the classroom. In an effort to meet this need, Governor Ned Lamont this week mentioned exploring a program to recruit college students who are training to become educators to fill in at schools in the coming months. While the Lamont Administration has been unwilling to require districts to remain open, deferring to local conditions and leadership, they have repeatedly stated that schools are among the safest places for students to be and the data supports safe in person learning. On the national front, the Brookings Institution late last month released analysis on the negative impact of a national substitute teacher shortage, citing that teacher absences are both detrimental to student learning and disproportionately impact disadvantaged schools.

Mental Health Concerns Rise for Children

In a must watch story from NBC News this week, experts explain the emotional toll children are experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic. With a lack of socialization, physical activity, routine and increased anxiety as the year drags on, many children are struggling. A new report from the CDC this week has revealed that from March to October of 2020, the proportion of Emergency Department (ED) visits related to mental health increased 24 percent for children aged 5-11 and 31 percent among adolescents aged 12-17, compared to the same period in 2019. According to the study, “Many children receive mental health services through clinical and community agencies, including schools. The increase in the proportion of ED visits for children’s mental health concerns might reflect increased pandemic-related stress and unintended consequences of mitigation measures, which reduced or modified access to children’s mental health services.”

Reminder: JOIN US TOMORROW at 10:30am: Intersectional Work of Education and Housing Policy Panel

Join us for a virtual panel discussion on the Intersectional Work of Education and Housing Policy as part of this week’s Tipping Point: Connecticut’s Affordable Housing Conference Series, hosted by The Partnership for Strong Communities at 10:30am TOMORROW, Thursday, November 19th. The conversation will include a dive into the premise, “Every child should have the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their zip code.” What does that mean here in Connecticut? Joining the discussion will be:

  • House Majority Leader Jason Rojas;

  • Executive Director of the CT School and State Finance Project Lisa Hammersley;

  • Strategic Partner for Intersect Public Solutions Liz Donohue; and

  • Policy Director for the Partnership for Strong Communities Sean Ghio.

➜➜➜ Register NOW!

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