Following the Department of Education’s release of the COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs, which includes research-based strategies to address the impact of the pandemic on students, educators, and staff, Secretary of Education

held a virtual roundtable with a diverse group of students and parents to discuss their educational and personal experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cardona listened to students and parents and promised to take the information he learned and the stories he heard back to stakeholders and policymakers.

During the conversation, participants shared highlights and asked for improvements based on their experiences during the pandemic. Some of the students spoke about the importance of continuing to use prevention practices such as wearing masks consistently and correctly. The Secretary encouraged them to share that same information with their peers as a way to support everyone’s safety and hasten a return to safe social events.

Other students shared that they miss social activities and interactions among their peers. A twelfth-grade student who joined the conversation said, “I would say in class we would have discussions, when we moved to virtual it is impossible to get the same type of engagement in class discussions. A lot of the communication between students and teachers broke down.”

Cardona also asked each student about how they are dealing with their mental and emotional health. “Parents and teachers think that kids can handle all of the stress, but there are mental health issues that are being neglected. We haven’t been able to see our friends and need more social interaction during school,” said a seventh-grade student who participated in the conversation.

Cardona said, “Listening to all of you, I feel that there’s a sense of urgency to get this right because our kids are waiting. Throughout this conversation, I took great notes. I’m gathering information so when I meet with the President, when I meet with policymakers and folks that are interested in education, we have your voice at the table.”

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