As the start of the school year approaches, one Indiana University study is exploring teachers’ challenges and needs for the upcoming year after the pandemic disrupted education plans. Elisheva Cohen at Indiana University Bloomington researches education in times of crisis, conflict or natural disaster. Her recent research looks at teachers’ experiences teaching through the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal, Cohen says, is to delve in to the experiences of teachers and the challenges they face. The study found the most important factors when reopening schools include more training for teachers, increased focus on the well-being of teachers and community input during planning. Additionally, teachers taking part in the study said they need help to better navigate new distance-learning applications, appreciation and respect from administrators; and they need to know that if they fall ill, they will be able to care for themselves without risking their livelihoods. Cohen says it’s with these kinds of support that teachers will be able to provide the best education and care for their students during the pandemic and may be able to ‘build back better’ for the future.
In other news, early results from a study by two Indiana University Bloomington professors on the COVID-19 pandemic's impact show a substantial number of mental health issues and instances of psychological aggression within relationships while people have had to shelter at home. Zöe Peterson, associate professor in the School of Education's Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology and director of the Kinsey Institute's Sexual Assault Research Initiative, and Ellen Vaughan, associate professor in the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology, have surveyed about 200 people nationwide since late April. They found the pandemic combined with social distancing appears to create a very stressful situation and a fairly high number of people are exhibiting mental health symptoms such as depression or anxiety. In examining which groups of people are having the hardest time, the data indicate that the LGBTQ+ community is experiencing a particularly high rate of stress and depression. Preliminary survey data from participants shows that since the start of the pandemic, 50 percent of individuals experienced depressive symptoms in the moderate-to-severe range. Some respondents have agreed to follow-up studies and will be re-contacted to examine how their mental health changes as social distancing orders are lifted.
And with summer underway, many are making travels plans to visit loved ones. But when it ok for grandparents to visit their newborn grandchild? As Indiana University’s Aaron Carroll writes in the New York Times, with precautions in place you may be able to see and even hold the newest addition to your family. Carroll, who is a professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, says there are steps we can take to minimize risks and if families are willing to follow them, it can be reasonably safe for babies and grandparents to meet each other. Carroll recommends that parents socially distance with their newborn for at least two weeks and said visits from anyone aren’t safe during that time. While careful isolation makes the risks minimal, he also advises against air travel for visits and any large group gatherings. And according to Carroll, all the other rules about meeting a newborn still apply. Everyone should be healthy, and no one should have cold, cough or flu symptoms of any kind. Everyone should wash their hands and be conscious of what they’re touching in general, especially faces. Everyone should also be up-to-date on their vaccines, according to current guidelines. A baby’s pediatrician is a good resource for all of these recommendations.