Preparing Students for a Safe Summer

  • A sample daily schedule that outlines times for self-care, family meals, online activities, seeing friends, doing chores, exercise, etc.
  • A list of safe places where the student can find a sense of calm and security when stressed. This might include the child’s room, the home of a trusted neighbor, friend, or relative, or a favorite place in nature such as under a shady tree in a community park.
  • The phone numbers of “safe people” who the child can reach out to for emotional support and help as needed.
  • A list of fun and enriching activities to facilitate focus and relaxation, such as bike riding, playing games with friends, playing a musical instrument, seeing a movie, swimming, walking the dog.
  • A wish list of family activities to plan with parents and siblings.
  • Anticipated stressors over the summer, e.g., being home alone and feeling lonely or scared, an older sibling leaving for college, not being invited to a party, being teased, or bullied online or in person.
  • Actions that can be taken to address stressors, as well as a list of the child’s most useful distress tolerance strategies, such as deep breathing, listening to music, writing in a journal, playing with a pet, taking a bubble bath, calling a grandparent, etc.
  • For Tier 2 and Tier 3 students, contact parents to assist with summer appointments and emergency contact numbers. Reinforce the importance of continuing counseling sessions and medications over the summer and inform families about school resources that will remain accessible over the break. All clinical, special services, and administrative office phone numbers should have outgoing voicemail messages that give clear directives about where to access emergency services; email “out of office” messages should also contain this information. Develop a personal safety plan with each student. Schedule a brief clinical assessment appointment for August so that changes in status can be noted, and treatment plans can be updated when school resumes in September. All recommendations and referrals should be clearly documented in each student’s file.
  • Consider asking teachers to identify those students from the general population who appear to be struggling the most and offer these students one or two counseling sessions to develop individualized safety plans before school ends. Review these plans with parents as well.
  • Consider using federal COVID-19 relief funds to lengthen the hours-per-day and weeks-per-summer availability of ESY programs, and/or to broaden them so that more students can be included. Typical ESY regular check-ins with parents.
  • COVID-19 funding can also be allocated to maintain “crisis clinician” and case manager hours over the summer. Clinicians can field urgent calls from parents and students, can do regular outreach with the most vulnerable students, and/or can run “vacation clinical” drop-in groups that help students stay connected to the school and remain under clinical oversight.
  • School-based camp/daycare services can be expanded to help children maintain structure over the summer, and to provide parents with much needed relief.
  • Lists of community resources, including emergency services, community health centers, food banks, camps, recreational activities, and tutoring opportunities should be compiled and offered to parents so that they can help their children maintain structure and support over the summer months.

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