July 30, 2020

SonderMind and Varsity Tutors Team Up to Help Families and Kids with Well-Being During a Disrupted School Year

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Behavioral health and learning experts to co-host live, interactive forums offering insights and strategies for ensuring student well-being during this socially distant school year.

Denver & St. Louis - As schools across the U.S. announce their learning plans for the coming school year, the number of students and parents concerned about the social and mental health stresses of the ‘20-‘21 academic calendar is on the rise.

A recent health tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that:

  • If schools don’t reopen, about two-thirds of parents are worried about their children falling behind socially and emotionally (67%) and academically (65%)
  • 40% of parents worry about their child not getting needed social services if schools remain closed
  • A majority of adults (53%) now say that stress and worry related to the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health. This is up 14 percentage points since May, and up 8 percentage points since the previous high of 45% in early April. About one in four (26%) say worry and stress related to coronavirus has had a “major impact” on their mental health, while a similar share (28%) say it has had a “minor impact”
  • About half (52%) of adults report that worry and stress related to the coronavirus outbreak has had adverse effects on their mental health and well-being in specific ways. About a third say coronavirus-related worry or stress has led to problems with their sleep (36%) or has led to a poor appetite or overeating (32%). About one in five say worry or stress related to the pandemic has caused them to experience frequent headaches or stomach aches (18%) or difficulty controlling their temper (18%), while 12% each say it has led to increased alcohol or drug use or worsening chronic health conditions.

In an effort to support families during this unique and emotional time, SonderMind and Varsity Tutors have announced that they are partnering to present a series of free live, interactive online forums. The sessions are intended to equip both students and parents with the resources and strategies necessary for strengthening mental and behavioral resilience.

On August 3rd, Dr. Doug Newton, a practicing psychiatrist with a masters degree in infectious disease epidemiology and Chief Medical Officer at SonderMind, will host the first of three sessions that will help parents and kids navigate an unprecedented journey back to school. The first course, “What Happened to the High School Experience I Expected?,” offers strategies for high school students. Each of the subsequent courses—including “Parenting Through An Unfamiliar Elementary School Experience” on August 10th and “Managing An Unprecedented Middle School Experience” on August 17th—are intended for parents of students in grades K-5 and grades 6-8 respectively. Topics will include:

  • The biological impact of pandemic stress on parents and kids
  • Guidance on how to manage kids’ behavior changes
  • Resources and references for parents

“Social distancing during back to school is a challenge, especially as kids try to navigate the social stresses and uncertainties in their lives,” Dr. Newton said. “We hope to give parents and students strategies for coping with social isolation and dealing with a disrupted school year - so that they can thrive socially, emotionally and academically in the COVID era.”

The forums are an extension of Varsity Tutors’ free Virtual School Day program, which the company created when school closures began due to COVID-19. Virtual School Day offers a suite of resources to help ensure kids stay on track, including free learning assessments, interactive summer camps and enrichment classes, one-on-one instruction, and learning pod and homeschool support.

“Having a sound strategy to address academics, as well as mental and emotional health, is incredibly important as we head into this new and unusual school year,” said Brian Galvin, Chief Academic Officer at Varsity Tutors. “The behavioral health professionals at SonderMind can offer a lot of value for families coping with the reality of a socially distant school year.”

To register yourself or a student for the SonderMind sessions, go to https://www.varsitytutors.com/classes/star/sondermind-navigating-unexpected to hold your spot.

About Varsity Tutors

Varsity Tutors is a Live Learning Platform that seamlessly connects experts and learners in more than 2,500 subjects. Our mission as a company is simple - We Help People Learn. Since 2007, we've been investing in online learning technology, built new to the world capabilities, and assembled some of the most talented educators across the US to help deliver that mission for hundreds of thousands of students. Amidst school closures and the potential for a prolonged amount of time out of the classroom due to COVID-19, our mission has become more important than ever. As a company we feel it is critical that these resources be readily and freely available at this time of great need.

For more information, visit https://www.varsitytutors.com.

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