DASH Partner Update – August 2020

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Dear Partners,

We have all seen the extraordinary impact that COVID-19 has had on our nation’s youth – their families, their communities, and their futures. Our job now is to help them reconnect to school in whatever way possible, given the current and differing realities in communities across the nation.

DASH will do everything we can to support school districts in helping students. We will provide additional support to our funded education agencies and non-governmental organizations to improve school districts’ ability to address the mental and emotional health needs that students will have as they start the new school year. We will work with partners and their networks to support the development of tools and resources for education agencies around the country to ensure that students get the support they need, regardless of the format their learning takes.

This year especially, students need support from trusted adults and to learn in environments that promote healing, and foster agency and resilience. Those environments may look different, and some may be virtual, but we know that we can help foster resilience by promoting a sense of safety, calm, self- and collective-efficacy, connectedness, and hope.

This fall, as we do more work to amplify and address the mental health needs of adolescents, I invite you to join us in prioritizing and centering mental health.

School districts have had to make and continue to make challenging decisions. We support local districts to make these decisions and modifications to the learning environment in order to optimize learning, support, and growth of youth.

As we navigate the current environment together, we look forward to learning from you about innovative ways to support students in virtual environments, hybrid models, or newly reopened schools and providing more resources to you as they become available. As a start, in addition to our regular updates, we have compiled a selection of resources below.


Kathleen A. Ethier, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Adolescent and School Health
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Mental Health Resources for Return to School
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Reunite, Renew, Thrive: Social and Emotional Learning Roadmap for Reopening Schools

CASEL developed a roadmappdf iconexternal icon for school leaders and leadership teams, to support the return to school with equity-focused social and emotional learning strategies centered on relationships and built on the existing strengths of a school community.

Keeping Secondary School Students Connected to School When School is Remote

A Johns Hopkins University webinar highlights what school connectedness is and why it is so important, especially for adolescents, when school becomes remote. It also provides strategies for building connectedness in a virtual environment.

As schools reopen, addressing COVID-19-related trauma and mental health issues will take more than mental health services

This Child Trends’ articleexternal icon presents the importance of taking a comprehensive approach that goes beyond mental health services and provides strategies for education leaders to support mental health and address trauma as schools prepare to reopen.

What's New With DASH?
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  • Materials to Support DASH’s Strategic Plan: DASH recently released materials to highlight our 2020-2025 strategic plan. In addition to an outline of the plan, you can find the strategic framework, an overview presentation, and 2020 strategic plan accomplishments on the About DASH webpage.
  • New Parent Infobriefs: DASH recently released two new infobriefs for parents of adolescents. Birth Control: Information for Parents of Adolescents details the types of birth control methods and provides parents with information to help their adolescent choose the method that is right for them. STD Testing: Information for Parents of Adolescents details why adolescents should be tested for STDs and provides information on the STD tests that are recommended for adolescents.
  • Coming Soon – 2019 YRBS Data: In late August, CDC will release data from the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. This report will provide an important snapshot of the health of our nation’s youth before the COVID-19 pandemic. DASH’s YRBS data webpage will be updated with 2019 data on August 20th.
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DASH Around Town
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Connect with DASH staff at these upcoming virtual events.

September 14-24: Several DASH staff will present at the National STD Prevention Conference. Presentations include:

  • Condom and contraceptive use among sexually active high school students—National Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, United States, 2019
  • Annual STD testing among sexually active high school students: First national estimates from the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey

September 30-October 1: Several DASH staff will present at the American School Health Association’s (ASHA) 2020 Conference. Presentations include:

  • Practical tools for improving school climate for LGBTQ youth
  • Strategies for developing a health education scope and sequence
Updates from Partners
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  • Beyond School Walls: How Federal, State, and Local Entities are Adapting Policies to Ensure Student Access to Healthy Meals During the COVID-19 Pandemic: This Trust for America’s Health policy briefexternal icon reviews steps the federal and state governments have taken to ensure students’ access to healthy meals when schools are closed and what needs to be done to ensure continued meal access for the 2020-2021 school year.
  • Release of the 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health: The Trevor Project has released resultsexternal icon from its second annual survey of LGBTQ youth from across the country. The release provides critical insights around LGBTQ youth mental health disparities, discrimination, housing instability, barriers to affirming health care, subjection to conversion therapy, and suicide. It also highlights how safe spaces and social support positively impact the well-being of LGBTQ youth.
  • Infographics Highlighting Results of a National School Nurse Survey: The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) conducted a survey in April 2020 to school nurses from all 50 states and the District of Columbia to learn about their experiences with COVID-19. Are Schools Prepared for Another COVID Outbreak?pdf iconexternal icon and The Valuable Roles of School Nurses During COVID-19pdf iconexternal icon represent some of the key findings.
  • Webinar: The State of American Education: The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) will hold a webinar on August 19, 2020external icon from 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EST to discuss how the pandemic has impacted schools and related issues such as social and emotional learning; trauma-informed care; continued remote learning; grading, assessments, and accountability; and educator shortages.
In the Field

DC Public Schools is continuing to find ways to connect with LGBTQ+ students during COVID-19. Programming includes: collecting and sharing coming out stories, capturing national and DC specific LGBTQ+ history, a podcast which explores the life and contributions of local LGBTQ+ folks, and a monthly Zoom coffee chats with parents and caregivers of LGBTQ youth.

Upcoming Health Observances
  • September is Sexual Health Month and Suicide Prevention Month
  • October is National Bullying Prevention Month and National Substance Use Awareness Month
  • October 4-10: Mental Health Awareness Week
  • October 5: World Teachers’ Day
  • October 15: National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day