As the 2020-2021 school year comes to an end, there are many reasons to be hopeful. We appear to have made it through the worst of the pandemic and survived an incredibly singular and challenging experience. With widespread vaccination taking place and travel bans lifting—the return to normal life is visibly on the horizon for many.
That said, we are not there yet and we need to remain cautiously optimistic in our approach at this critical point in the recovery. The next phase will require continuing to account for ongoing risks and rebuilding structures and habits that broke down as a result of remote schooling and stay-at-home orders. To best be able to confront these issues, we must understand and acknowledge what they are. Let’s look at a few of the most significant pain points that students, teachers, and schools are currently dealing with — and how we can collectively overcome them as we venture into the ‘new normal.’
Lack of human contact
As many of us have now experienced first-hand—social isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness, fear of others, and even negative self-esteem. Being away from peers and teachers has been a challenge, and it is vital that we ease back into consistent human contact in a way that accounts for the individual struggles each student has faced over the last year and a half. The increased stress, isolation, and uncertainty have led to various mental health issues for both staff and students, and we must be proactive in addressing these concerns before they escalate.
Lack of community contact and Direct Service
Despite the many innovative ways that students and teachers have continued providing meaningful service throughout the pandemic, the absence of direct service and time spent together has been felt by many communities. To continue finding safe and impactful ways to engage in Service Learning, we will be required to keep looking for innovative and ethical approaches to ensure our initiatives can really make a difference.
Lack of opportunity for students and staff to enjoy shared experiences that create cohesion and bonding
There is simply no substitute for the dynamic, spirited, and unpredictable environment of a school. Although gathering so many young people in one place is not without its challenges, they are well surpassed by the rewards it offers. As a result of the pandemic, students have missed out on many experiences such as sports, school trips, and after-school clubs, among others. We need to carve out ways to make up for this loss and reactive student participation in the school community.
Striking a healthy balance when it comes to screen time
We have all become glued to our screens as a result of the pandemic. As we enter into this next phase, it is essential that we consider the impact of this behavior and remind ourselves of the importance of balance and the value of time spent detached from our digital devices.
To help overcome these and other challenges, we at CAS Trips have designed two innovative programs to help students succeed in the coming school year and beyond. Our CAS Induction Workshops, led by a team of live facilitators, have been designed to help students develop their CAS portfolios while motivating them to overcome the challenges of the pandemic and exploring what CAS could mean to them.
Meanwhile, our Close to Home initiative is about providing the opportunity for students and teachers to reconnect with their school community while learning, exploring, and making new memories together. One of our core aims at CAS Trips is to Think Global, Act Local and a silver lining of the pandemic is that we can immerse ourselves in our own cultures and communities to make a real impact through localised travel. International schools may not be able to travel far this year. However, our Close to Home program means that students can still gain all the benefits and excitement of travel while staying within the reassuring setting of their own country.
We are confident that the coming year will offer many opportunities for students to get back on track and excel in their CAS pursuits and their education more broadly. Please get in touch to learn more about the programs we offer and discuss opportunities for making the 2021-2022 school year a success.
Photo credits: https://unsplash.com/@prateekkatyal