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Boldly Bring them Back: Summer interventions for student re-engagement during Covid-19.

By Tesha Robinson posted 05-26-2021 16:09


The school structure during the pandemic has made it easier for students to disengage from school. Spontaneous pop-ins on google meets and sporadic responses to an email have served as maximum engagement for some students. Their lack of engagement places them at risk of dropping out of high school. School districts must use every opportunity to intervene and re-engaged those students before the issue progresses. Below are some practical interventions that can be applied this summer. Overall, students want to feel connected and cared for. The school has to initiate those connections and provide social-emotional support for students. 

R&R: Re-engagement at Registration 

One opportunity for re-engagement is during registration for the new school year. During registration, students are typically receiving books, technology,  class schedules, and school IDs. Administrators and support staff can use data to create a list of students who disengaged during the previous semester or school year. Those students who are preidentified can be targeted at the registration event for re-engagement. 

  1. Conference with the student and their parents. Select a private space for an administrator and support staff can hold the conference. This gives an opportunity to create a relationship. 

  2. Collect Data. Provide a brief form that asked questions to gather information about their cause for disengagement. Providing a list of possible options (i.e., family issues, mental health, employment and etc.) can be helpful. Identify possible needs for students to re-engage. 

  3. Provide the students with a list of resources. The students should be aware of what services the school offers for support and credit recovery. Social-emotional services are essential for this population. 

  4. Identify a trusted adult for the student or create a check-in system. 

  5. Determine the level of student confidence in being successful in school. Students who lack self-efficacy will need special attention to build their confidence and reduce self-inflicting barriers. 

Mobile Mondays
Visiting a student’s home during the summer is another option to get the student to re-engage. This can be done as often as a district likes. One option is to visit homes every Monday during the month of June and July. This should not be a typical truancy home visit. The purpose of the visit is to show interest in the student’s well-being, identify and reduce barriers to their engagement. This is a great time to bring the family lunch and truly get to know the student. It is perfectly acceptable to visit in the front yard and social distance during the pandemic. The visit should show that the school cares and welcomes the student back

Transition Track Accepting that some students will not have the capacity to attend full days of school for five days per week is realistic. It may sound counterintuitive to reduce the instructional time for students who already missed so much. However, this population of students might need to transition back into the full-time school structure. Students are unlikely to just “bounce back” from being disengaged for a year or so. It could be overwhelming to sense the need to get caught up with their peers. Discovering what works for the nontraditional student is key. Perhaps they are more likely to attend a half-day program or another form of an abbreviated schedule. The transition also could look like spending the first few weeks focusing on executing functioning skills and social-emotional learning. A program that is tailored to focus on their social mental well-being is needed to reduce some of the anxiety that could be connected to school and falling behind.  They could possibly be on a whole new track towards graduation. Therefore, create the possibility for them to succeed. 

We can not wait on students to just show back up on the first day of school. We have to pursue them! Students care about graduating from high school. They just might not have the motivation to fight through the barriers. Those students need you.