February 2022

February 2022

Returning Stronger: Student Reengagement Through and Beyond the Pandemic

From the Director

Welcome to the February 2022 issue of the NSBA Center for Safe School’s Quarterly Newsletter.


Since the pandemic first hit in the spring of 2020, school districts have been working tirelessly to bring students

back to schools safely. The importance of in-person instruction paired with the monumental efforts that districts, their staffs, and their communities have been engaged in cannot be understated.

Through the past two years, we have seen communities come together like never before with the shared goal of supporting their students. Even with these tremendous efforts, we now realize the additional challenges that the pandemic has brought. As most students have been back in school buildings for much of this past year, it is not enough to get our students back into buildings and back to the status quo. We must take additional steps to reengage them with their school communities.


The root of student success stems from their ability to be engaged in the larger school community. The current challenges our students, families, and communities face are significant and real. We are seeing increased exposure to trauma and increased mental health concerns. Our students need our support more than ever. Physical isolation has heightened the need for connection in addition to the curriculum. As we return to in-person instruction, we are seeing enrollment, behavioral, and mental health challenges at alarming rates. A sense of belonging and positive relationships is crucial to fostering whole child development and their ability to reach their full potential. This issue will delve into the question of how do we reengage our students and families into their educational communities during and through the pandemic?


The good news is that the tools to reengage our students and communities are out there. Investing in the social and emotional development of students supports in building a strong sense of community and self-efficacy. Valuing and empowering student voice and taking a purposeful approach to building campus relationships can lay the foundation for highly engaged students. Additionally, working to engage all stakeholders with an intentional focus on equity can work to reengage students from remote instruction. It also can begin to repair the harms of institutional and structural racism that have kept some of our students and families from feeling that they were fully part of the community prior to the pandemic.


This newsletter will help you to develop an understanding of student engagement and the impacts the pandemic has had. It will also look at evidence-based best practices to begin the process of reengaging students and the community at large. Please reach out with any questions or comments using the online discussion group to engage other subscribers from around the country or via center4safeschools@nsba.org.


Thank you for your continued interest and commitment to helping foster safe and inclusive schools for all our students and district employees.


Adam Lustig
Director, NSBA Center for Safe Schools


February 2022
Returning Stronger: Student Reengagement Through and Beyond the Pandemic

May 2021
Supporting the Mental Health of Students and Staff Through the Pandemic and Beyond

January 2021
Rethinking The Role of The School Resource Officer

October 2020
The Value of Sports and Performance Programs: Understanding the Benefits and Prioritizing Programs Through a Pandemic

July 2020
Prevention and Intervention: An Understanding of Behavioral Threat Assessments

May 2020
The COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned

January 2020
Cybersecurity: Understanding the Threats and Risks

October 2019
Rethinking Bullying Prevention

Helping Students

COVID’s Strange Gift

JC Pohl

The pandemic was hard on all of us, and two of the groups which suffered most horribly were students and staff. As activities and in-person classes were cancelled, we saw students struggling to find the motivation to show up. This caused failing grades to escalate to record highs, and as this school year matures, we see campus behavior issues shooting through the roof.

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Community Engagement through the Lens of Equity: Honoring Every Life, Each Day

By Camille Simone Edwards

As schools continue to navigate the rippling impacts of COVID-19 on their communities, we need to hear many voices at the table to ensure we are considering as many narratives as possible. We cannot look to fully reengage our students through the events of the past two years if we are not actively engaging with all stakeholders within our communities. Equally, we cannot fully understand our students’ and communities’ needs if we are not engaging them through an equity lens.

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Taking A Communal Approach to Reengage Students

By Gislene Tasayco, Audrey M. Hutchinson, Antonia Rangel-Caril  

It is estimated that as many as 3 million K-12 students were at a high risk of experiencing minimal or no educational access from spring through fall of 2020. Since then, efforts to reengage students have made progress. However, the pandemic has created additional financial stress, loss of loved ones, and educational and social disruptions that an already overwhelmed school system cannot battle or respond to alone.

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