The USA has recently brought in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) to help the country deal with the fallout from the virus. It’s a momentous bipartisan act with a total fund package of $2.2trillion.
Of this sum, $13.5billion has been earmarked for the K-12 education sector, to be divided between all states and which will see the largest – Texas, New York and California – receive over $1billion each.
The funding can be used flexibly by each state and may cover things like buying devices and internet services for students; helping vulnerable students (those with disabilities, EAL, ethnic minority, homeless students and so on) and providing meals during school closures; school deep cleaning and mental health services.
Looking after wellbeing
We all know that over recent years, all over the world, students’ mental health problems have been escalating. In response, USA state legislators had been trying increase access to mental health services for all students. This Act recognises and continues that good work – ensuring several new avenues of funding to prioritise mental health during these unprecedented times by allocating a total of $425million to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
A $50million portion of this funding will be dedicated exclusively to suicide prevention. A further $250million will be allocated to Certified Behavioral Health Clinics. Not all states have these, but where they exist, they will be able to improve services to those living with mental illness and substance use disorders.
In addition, another $100million of SAMSA’s funding will be deemed ‘flexible’ and used to not only address mental health and substance use in general, but will also provide mental health resources to students and those who are homeless.
How can NetSupport technology help with students’ mental health?
Part of being able to help students with mental health issues is being aware of the problems in the first place. Quiet students who find it difficult to speak out about how they feel or about problems they may be having, can easily slip under the radar of their teachers, especially amid a large class group.
Technology can help provide visibility to teachers as to how students are doing. Even a simple ‘How are you feeling today?’ question from the teacher via the Student Feedback mode in NetSupport School allows students to answer truthfully without the pressure of a teacher asking them directly. This way, at least teachers can begin to gain an idea of who is OK and who may be struggling.
Schools or districts with NetSupport DNA installed have a dedicated online digital safety module with a range of tools to protect students and alert teachers and school counselors to risk. With the aid of contextual intelligence, its Risk Index automatically flags high-risk events (e.g. an online search of how to commit suicide) to the teacher and assesses this against the context and history of that student’s previous activities. This way, teachers can see whether that search was done within a lesson context, or in fact, out of hours in an unmonitored setting such as a library, allowing them to apply their professional judgement and act accordingly. Schools with a high proportion of students speaking languages other than English can extend their duty of care to these students by installing the language packs NetSupport DNA makes available to pick up on keywords typed in other languages.
Providing the ability for students to reach out to trusted teachers is also crucial, so NetSupport DNA allows them to report their concerns via their device in class (again, removing the pressure of face-to-face communication) or out of hours via the school website. Empowering students to seek help externally is also important, so an up-to-date self-service list of organisations is also provided within the solution, to give students an easy reference of where they can reach out for help.
To find out more about teaching and learning with NetSupport School, click here.
To find out more about online digital safety with NetSupport DNA, click here.
Schools with NetSupport School in place can still use it to teach and support their students as normal via an RDP (virtual) environment. To find out more about how this works, please click here.