By Tara Gibson - June 4, 2020
The coronavirus, or COVID-19 pandemic, has disrupted K-12 schools and districts operationally, forcing students, teachers, school resource officers (SROs), and staff to adjust to the “new normal” of remote and distanced learning. School resource officers have had to adapt their workdays to support students and educational staff in different ways. Typically, SROs serve as the main security arm of the schools in which they work, working to create, develop, and implement comprehensive safety plans to ensure schools are a safe place for students to learn. Now, amidst the pandemic, they’ve switched gears to help students and K-12 staff get through this unprecedented time in any way they can.
Like most people working in the education field, school resource officers are missing the familiar chatter in school hallways, and high fiving students as they walk into their classrooms. Although SROs are unable to see their students at school, many are working overtime to assist school districts in reaching students, helping students, and motivating students to keep up with their schoolwork.
Below find 5 ways SROs are reaching their students during this uncertain time.
For the millions of children who rely on school meals and technology, this pandemic has been especially difficult. With that being said, SROs are stepping in to help with distributing meals to students across the United States as well as technology to assist in distant learning.
School Resource Officer Tracey Jacobs went above and beyond for a group of her students to help support them during distance learning and keep them connected, according to CBS Sacramento. Officer Jacobs purchased Apple iPhones and iPads out of her own pocket and distributed them surprising three students. In a Facebook post, the department said “the students were all smiles and now say how much they love ‘apples!'”
Officer Jason Neidig, an SRO at Aberdeen Middle School in Maryland is missing his students immensely. Although schools have closed, himself and other school resource officers throughout Hartford County aren’t allowing these closures to stop them from engaging with kids and supporting them when needed, according to the Baltimore Sun. Neidig explains that he saw his students frequently using social media applications such as Instagram, Youtube, and TikTok, so he decided utilizing these platforms would be a great way to stay engaged with students who are stuck at home.
“I wanted to build that relationship with the students not just only in the school but outside the school,” Neidig said. "They have got to believe in themselves.”
Neidig uses the platforms to encourage students to keep up with their studies, do their homework, and promote positivity while they are home. He even hosted his own TikTok challenge where students were to lip-sync different songs and they would be judged by his two young daughters. Those simple acts, he said, can be the mentorship students need to thrive, as per the Baltimore Sun.
SROs are typically very involved with their school community and serve as mentors to young students. Some are joining Zoom calls and virtual classrooms to say hi to the kids, and others are reading books to kids and serving as mentors by encouraging students to participate and stay motivated at home.
“One of the things I love most about being an SRO is the relationships that I build with my students and their families,” says Deputy Jennifer Billings, who serves Enka Middle School. “I think I speak for everyone when I say that we absolutely miss seeing our kiddos face-to-face every day. It is important to me that students know we are still here for them, and we are cheering on all of their accomplishments. Their lives as they knew them changed overnight, and in my opinion, the students are true heroes for the way they have adapted and overcome!”
Check out this great video from the SROs in Broward County, Florida:
SROs are becoming creative when supporting and reaching K-12 students amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, kids are finding it increasingly difficult to stay motivated and keep up with schoolwork due to isolation and a growing mental health crisis.
K-12 schools and districts should utilize the tools and technology they have in place, such as a school notification system or mass notification system, to raise awareness about mental health and deliver reminders to parents to assist in remote learning. Administrators can also use geo-polling technology to fill shifts for food and technology distribution or resource pick-up centers for those students relying on school meals.
It's important to stay connected with students, parents, teachers, and staff during this uncertain time while schools across the U.S. are closed.
Tara is a Marketing Coordinator on the Rave Mobile Safety marketing team. She loves writing about all things K-12, State & Local, Higher Ed, Corporate, and Healthcare, and manages the Rave social media channels. When she's not working, she's taking care of her smiley, shoe eating, Instagram-famous fur baby, Enzo!
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