Laura Bratt Q&A: Health & Wellness in SRVUSD
Q1: How would you tackle concerns around health and wellness for our students?
Laura Bratt: As a parent with 4 children in the district, I see first-hand the level of daily anxiety our students feel around academic achievement, safety in our schools, social pressure, climate change, marginalization, and now layered with COVID-19, economic insecurity, and remote learning stress. The world is overwhelming, we are all overwhelmed. Now imagine being 15 and you’ve been told over and over — “Where are you planning to go to college?” “Where will you hide when the person with the gun bangs on your classroom door?” “No — you can’t see your friends, you can’t go outside, you can’t play your sport, you can’t hug your grandmother.” “School is different, but you can adapt.” “I can’t tell you when this will end.” “Don’t worry, be happy!”
We have to acknowledge and address the demands that we put on our children, empathize with them, give them the space and security to step away and breathe. And we have to start with compassion and being open to seeing their perspective.
We also need to teach our students from TK on up the skills, vocabulary, and bravery to hold space for and speak their truths. To be able to voice their opinions, talk about their emotions, and feel empowered to change the outcomes. Prioritizing social and emotional literacy at an early age will build a foundation for navigating the anxiety and pressure that all of us feel. I believe that providing structure and education around health and wellness at an early age well greatly reduce the need and cost in reactive services at the high school level.
We need to offer support in a de-stigmatized way that reaches out to everyone, not just the students and families who have the energy and cultural support to walk through the door. By continuing to build a curriculum around social, emotional, and physical wellness strategies at all grade levels, to all students and then giving our teachers, counselors, administration, and families the resources to be proactive in their response, we can build a school climate around openness, inclusion, and belonging. These resources have to include a sustainable ratio of academic advisors and social/emotional counselors so that our students have the support they need when they need it.
Through my work on the LCAP Stakeholder Committee, we have helped to steer goals and initiatives around health and wellness, including the High School Wellness Centers. My understanding was that the district had a plan to bring these centers to all 4 school sites after the initial pilot year in 19/20. COVID no doubt has put a wrench in this plan and as Board Trustee for Area 3 I’ll ensure that the goals are still in place as we move back into on-site learning and that we fully take into account both what has worked and been a challenge with the pilot programs as well as the new needs around COVID.