LAKESIDE, Calif. (KGTV) — When parents dropped off their kids during Lakeside Union School District's in-person summer school, the teachers noticed some of the youngest students were uneasy.
The district includes some 5,200 students from transitional kindergarten up to 8th grade.
"Kids would say, 'I'm nervous. I'm anxious.' They weren't able to put language to it. Just knew something was wrong," said Dr. Kim Reed, an assistant superintendent for the district.
Reed believes many other students also have those feelings, amid the isolation and other stressors hitting families during the pandemic. In response, the district will build a "social-emotional" component into the curriculum this fall.
"What we mean by "social-emotional" is really the kids' well-being, connectivity to peers and teachers, feelings of safety," said Reed.
After training with counseling staff, teachers will — for about 20 to 30 minutes a day — leading virtual discussions with their students.
"Every student has a chance to have their voice heard ... every day, a group coming together for lessons on how to talk about, how to manage those worries and fears," said Reed.
Reed says separately, teachers can include social-emotional learning in the lesson plan, if, for example, the topic of the pandemic will be coming up.
"Kids can't learn when they're afraid ... Our strategy is to address the social-emotional needs as a foundation and address their academic needs. We feel we'll then be meeting the needs of the whole child," said Reed.
Reed says their social-emotional learning will be a mainstay, even when in-person classes resume,
"We're hoping to do give students the skills to meet the challenge of our more complicated world," said Reed.
The teachers union will be voting on some aspects of the social-emotional plan. The school year is set to begin Aug. 20.