MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a particular toll on children, who might not fully understand all of the sudden changes in their lives.
To help children cope, one charter school in Memphis is focusing on the social and emotional well-being of its students.
Every Wednesday, the staff at Perea Elementary calls all 142 students.
"We want our students to continue growing social, emotionally just like academically. We don't want them to miss a beat with academics; their math and their reading. We don't want them to miss a beat with their social and emotional health either, said LaBrenda Thomas, Dean of Social and Emotional Learning, Perea Elementary.
It's the schools mission to integrate social and emotional learning with academics, and it's something the staff says is crucial during these unprecedented times.
"I think on a scale of 1 to 10, it’s important as a 10 right now, because many kids don’t know what’s going on,” said Jeanette Mallory, Social and Emotional Instructional Assistant, Perea Elementary.
Mallory is one of six social and emotional instructional assistants who makes the weekly calls.
She says the number one question from students is, "When we going back? When we going back?”
Mallory also says many students have expressed distance as their biggest struggle.
“I think one of the main things that we discussed on the phone is playing and being around other kids,” said Mallory.
During the calls Mallory helps the students set goals and brainstorm ideas, but that simply checking in provides a sense of normalcy for the students.
“Just to hear their voices and how excited they are to talk to me. Some of them run to the phone before their parents, ‘It’s Ms. Mallory, it’s for me,’ so they are so happy to hear one of our voices,” said Mallory.
Shelby County Schools have also launched hotlines for families to deal with the emotional aspects of this pandemic.