Survey asks South Burlington students about emotional health

Social and emotional wellbeing is a priority for Vermont’s teachers, as students recover from the pandemic.
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 8:13 AM EST
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Social and emotional well-being is a priority for Vermont’s teachers as students recover from the pandemic, and students in South Burlington are answering questions about it in a survey.

The connection survey was introduced by new Tuttle Middle School Principal Scott Sivo after he brought it with him from his former district.

“These students who are in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade now, at the start of the pandemic were much younger elementary students and so the developmental challenges that they’re facing now, you know, looking at data from when they were in second and third grade, probably isn’t going to be hugely helpful to us,” said Sivo. “So, I think we’re just looking at it from a really, you know, human lens.”

The 20-question survey was taken by every middle schooler in the building. It asked them about friendships, trusted adults in the building, and feeling welcomed in the community, among other things.

Here is what Sivo says they found:

  • 85% of the students reported having a connection with a trusted adult they feel they could go to in need.
  • More than 90% of students say they feel respected and that their differences are respected by their teachers.
  • More than 95% of students said they feel they have friendships in school.

But despite the positives, Sivo says they’re working to make sure everyone feels connected at school.

“Now, our goal is to look at those individuals and to make sure that a trusted adult is reaching out to them and is discussing the results and saying, ‘How can we help you?’ And that’s what we’ve been doing for the last two weeks,” he said. “Just to give students a sense that we know they’ve been through a lot and that we’re listening, that they have adults here who care about how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking and want to try to improve the school.”

In addition to reaching out to specific students, the school has also been holding assemblies on topics like harassment and bullying in schools, as well as vaping and the health, legal and athletic impacts it has.

Sivo says they intend to administer the survey twice a year going forward.