A new toolkit for Colorado teachers will help them assess students’ physical and emotional health in their virtual classroom environments

Written by: Stephanie Perez-Carrillo
Date Posted: May 15, 2020

We recently celebrated teachers for the incredible work they do to support students and families during teacher appreciation week. We know a teacher’s reach goes far beyond classroom walls and is much more than teaching standards, shepherding students through curriculum and administering assessments. Often teachers also serve as trusted adults who monitor the emotional and physical health of their students.

Because of the disruptions of COVID-19, teachers and students alike are currently navigating the stress and challenges that come with remote instruction. In light of this new learning environment, over the last few months the Children’s Campaign participated with teachers, education advocates, the Colorado Department of Education, and the Colorado Department of Human Services to develop a toolkit to help teachers get a better sense of their student’s emotional and physical safety while they learn at home.

All kids must have their basic needs met before learning can flourish. When teachers and students were in the same school building and interacting daily, their relationships were different; educators were able to observe their students, ask about their physical and emotional needs, and serve as trusted mentors for students who might be experiencing neglect or abuse at home. But the disruptions related to COVID-19 introduced a dramatic shift in how educators interact with, assess and understand a student’s needs, as well as their role in meeting those needs.

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges that teachers face during this time is understanding the extent to which the pandemic has drastically changed the lives of each and every one of their students. Teachers are acutely aware that an increasing number of students are facing hunger and housing insecurity as a result of lost income and reduced work hours for families. In addition to all the stressors that come along with being a student under normal circumstances, kids and families are also enduring health crises, substance abuse, isolation and any number of other sources of stress.

Our teachers must be supported and well-equipped to navigate their current classrooms and assess the emotional and physical safety of their students remotely, which is why we enthusiastically joined the effort to develop this toolkit. Resources include activities for teachers serving students in grades K-5 and 6-12, as well as material on signs of abuse and neglect. Learn more by clicking here.

Stephanie Perez-Carrillo

About Stephanie Perez-Carrillo

Stephanie works as a Policy Analyst for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign, she worked as a Public Policy Fellow at The Women’s Foundation of Colorado – where she found her love and passion for policy work. Before diving into the policy world, Stephanie served as a Teach for America Corps Member in South Carolina, teaching high school and middle school math. Early on while obtaining her degree in Marketing from Florida International University, she worked in health care as a Patient Advocate and Unit Secretary. When she is not working, you can typically find her at a coffee shop, hanging out with friends, or engaging in some type of outdoor activity.