Supporting Students Coping with Grief and Loss During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As educators prepare to resume classes and programs, student mental health is an incredibly important concern. In a survey of First Book educators, 91% of respondents said they were “very or extremely” concerned about the mental/social-emotional health of children and families they serve – especially as schools and programs prepare to resume this fall.

In the same survey, 71% of educators responding said they don’t think they will have the resources needed to support their students’ mental health.

To support educators, First Book and the New York Life Foundation hosted a free live webcast and Q&A on Supporting Students Coping with Grief and Loss During the COVID-19 Pandemic. The webcast featured expert Dr. David Schonfeld, a leading developmental-behavioral pediatrician and founder of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

During the webinar, Dr. Schonfeld shared that it is important to understand that children who have experienced loss may not outwardly appear to be grieving.  He talked through tangible ways to support grieving children, including:

  • how to initiate conversations with grieving students,
  • what not to say, and
  • considerations related to grief across different cultures.

You can watch the full webinar on First Book’s YouTube channel here. In addition, educators can download free resource guides on Using Books To Support Students Through Grief, Loss And Healing:  available in English and Spanish.  First Book members can also access specially curated collections, with books that can help support caring conversations with students.  You’ll find these on the First Book Marketplace in the Grief, Loss, & Healing Category, with additional resources on the Social & Emotional Learning page.