Last year Coast Mountains School District 82 canvassed students to gauge their well-being. (File photo/Terrace Standard)

Last year Coast Mountains School District 82 canvassed students to gauge their well-being. (File photo/Terrace Standard)

School district seeks to reverse downward trend in student well-being

Schools to focus on attendance, nutrition and affordability

Coast Mountains School District 82 is looking to reverse downward trends in student well-being coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Aaron Callaghan, superintendent of schools at Coast Mountains, said a lot of factors play into children being successful in school. One of those being attendance.

“We know that if they’re engaged in their learning, they’re attending school,” Callaghan said.

“We’re just coming out of a pandemic and I think what we’ve seen nationally as well is there continues to be a level of disengagement that’s a result of the pandemic and we have kids that unfortunately have not returned to school, especially at the secondary level.”

The school district is looking to identify who those students are and to hear some of their stories as to why they’re not back in the system, Callaghan added.

“Because chances are it’s an indication of their well-being and of their level of engagement.”

The school district is looking at moving in a new direction on suspensions and how they are are enforced so as to keep more children in school every day and attending classes, a move that reflects the overall sentiment in B.C.

“We know that suspensions are a result of consequences from our code of conduct,” Callaghan said.

“We’re also trying to also have conversations around how we move to more of a restorative system, that is around learning and support, and repairing harm as opposed to just simply having kids suspended out of school as a consequence of their behaviour.”

The school district will also need to pay special attention to nutrition and sleep following results of a student survey released this past summer showing students who finished Grade 8 were a full 10 points below the B.C. average when it comes to getting enough of those two key well-being indicators.

Nutrition and sleep were also a particular concern for last year’s Grade 6 students now going into Grade 7.

That situation is expected to improve thanks to a one-time provincial grant of more than $500,000 targeting costs related to school supplies, education fees and food. About 75 per cent of that is going toward food both in school and out of school. Parents and guardians can also apply for money for field trips, school-related extracurricular, athletic or cultural activities, or clothing and supplies.

Since last year was the first time SD82 used the voluntary student survey, called a middle year development instrument, to measure student well-being, in 2023 Callaghan hopes to compare and evaluate progress.

“In a way it’s like a reset… I feel like there’s a lot of energy around the work that is starting to unfold,” Callaghan said. “It’s an opportunity to think about how we do business and how we should be doing business maybe a bit differently to better serve the needs of every one of our learners in our system.”

READ MORE: Provincial grant boosts school food programs

READ MORE: Coast mountain students report lack of well-being, sleep and nutrition: Survey


 

Do you have a comment about this story? email:
michael.willcock@terracestandard.com

Health and wellnessSchools

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