SCHOOLS

Assisting Schools Supporting Families

For teachers, educators, and personnel – how to help students and families when a student (or his/her sibling) has been seriously ill or in the hospital

Assisting Schools Supporting Families

For teachers, educators, and personnel – how to help students and families when a student (or his/her sibling) has been seriously ill or in the hospital

When a student has a serious injury or a hospital stay, schools have an important role. Some must be out of school for an extended time, and school personnel are essential in assisting these students and their families to promote ongoing academic learning and emotional recovery.

Teachers, as well as school nurses, guidance counselors, and other school staff all have a role in helping students and families manage this challenging time and maintain academic and social development.

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What school personnel can do:

When a student has a serious injury or a hospital stay, schools have an important role. Some must be out of school for an extended time, and school personnel are essential in assisting these students and their families to promote ongoing academic learning and emotional recovery.

a

Teachers, as well as school nurses, guidance counselors, and other school staff all have a role in helping students and families manage this challenging time and maintain academic and social development.

a

What school personnel can do:

Preparation for his/her return to school
  1. Maintain open communication with the student’s parents or caregivers
  2. Be sensitive to the needs of siblings or other children from the family who are able to attend school. (See tips below about managing stress and behavior changes in the classroom, many of which will apply to siblings as well.)
  3. Be prepared to talk with classmates about the student who has been ill or injured, disclosing only what information that has been agreed upon with the family.
When the student returns
  Upon returning to school after an extended absence due to illness or injury, the student may have difficulty transitioning back. This time can be stressful as the student tries to juggle all that is has happened to them as well as focus on schoolwork.

 

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  1. Make accommodations in classroom routines and expectations, if necessary. If a child has been out of school for an extended period of time then they may need a little help refocusing on a structured day.
  2. Respect the student’s feelings and decision about whether to speak about their illness or injury.
  3. Understand that there may be a change in behaviors such as regressing or acting out. While not all students will have behavior changes, it is important to understand what might be behind them.
Questions to consider if you're a teacher of a returning student
(Many of these will also apply to the siblings of a seriously ill child.)

 

  1. Do you feel that this child is transitioning well back in to the classroom? Have you observed any specific challenges since the student returned?
  2. Does the student actively participate in class discussions? Have you noticed a change in his/her interactions in the classroom since before his/her illness or hospitalization?
  3. Do you see a difference in peer relationships since returning to school? Has the student attempted to reestablish friendships with peers? If no, what can you or other school staff do to help facilitate this?
  4. Have you noticed a decline in grades or completing of assignments on time?
  5. Is the student having problems focusing, staying still or following directions?
  6. Has the student’s behavior changed since returning to school? If yes, how?
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If the teacher’s assessment is that the student is struggling with aspects of their return to the classroom, the teacher should reach out to the family as well as the principal or the guidance counselor for additional assistance.

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For middle and high school students, make use of teaching team meetings to compare notes about a student’s re-adjustment across multiple subjects. It may be useful to designate a point person for contact with the student and family during this transition. This could be the student’s homeroom teacher or academic advisor, or another teacher with a good connection to this student.

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