As schools reopen, more and more volunteers—both in-person and virtual—will be needed to support students as they return to in-person learning. Volunteers, like tutors, mentors, and other educational professionals, play a significant role in both supporting students and improving their academic performance. Students that work with volunteers are also more likely to stay engaged in school.
Below are the top three ways volunteers can support students as schools reopen and stay open, as well as information on how you can use COVID-19 relief funds to purchase a volunteer management system for your school.
1. Help Students Return to Grade Level
Remote learning has resulted in unfinished learning and/or learning loss for countless students. Tutoring programs, when implemented correctly, can drastically improve a student’s academic performance and help them return to grade level. High dosage tutoring (consistent tutoring sessions at least three days for a minimum of 30 minutes) tends to have the highest impact on student learning. This is especially true when the sessions are led by volunteers that are highly trained tutors, teaching candidates, recently retired teachers, or paraprofessionals.
2. Support Student Social, Emotional, and Mental Health
The pandemic disrupted learning, increased physical isolation and disengagement, and exposed millions to trauma and stressors including financial hardship, food insecurity, and death of loved ones. Many students also lost access to needed mental health services while their schools were closed; consequently, according to the U.S. Department of Education, some students in every school will need support to address the trauma, isolation, and anxiety they have experienced. Through mentoring opportunities and building strong relationships, volunteers can help support students adjust to in-person instruction and offer much needed emotional support and connection to students who are struggling the most.
“Leaders can look for opportunities to partner with high-quality mentorship or workforce training programs to help reengage disconnected youth…Purposeful strategies to reengage disconnected youth through youth violence reduction programs, mentorship, and strengthening youth skills through workforce engagement and training, also have the potential to reduce community violence.”
ED, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs
3. Assist With Events and Enrichment Programs
Enrichment activities and experiences such as high-quality summer camps and work-based learning or community service opportunities are helping students across the nation get back to grade level. These programs, as well as summer learning programs, have positive impacts on students’ academic development while supporting their social, emotional, and mental health needs. Volunteers can help with many aspects of these programs, from fundraising and event/program coordination to chaperoning.
If your school is limiting visitors or in-person volunteer opportunities, it is still possible and important to engage your community through volunteerism. Many schools are creating virtual volunteer programs to accomplish this. Virtual volunteers leverage technology to support schools, teachers, staff, and students through various opportunities. This can include activities such as presenting to students for career fairs or story time to being a reading buddy or trusted mentor. By being paired with virtual mentors or tutors, students can build relationships, receive personalized attention, and increase their success both inside and outside of school. Virtual volunteers can also supplement school resources by helping with skill-based projects, including data entry, or assisting with coordinating various events for enrichment programs.
Leverage COVID-19 Relief Funds
Districts are receiving an unprecedented amount of funding to address the impacts of COVID-19. These funds give districts and schools the resources to implement recommended best practices to reopen and safely stay open, including:
- implementing strategies to meet the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of students hit hardest by the pandemic
- addressing learning loss by hiring additional educators or tutors and funding crucial summer, afterschool, and other extended learning and enrichment programs
By helping you recruit, screen, and manage volunteers for activities such as mentoring and tutoring, Raptor Volunteer Management is an allowable expense under all three COVID-19 relief sources (CARES ESSER I, CRRSA ESSER II, and ARP ESSER).
Screen, Track, and Approve Volunteers
Whether you have in-person volunteers, virtual volunteers, or a mix of both, you need an efficient method to recruit, screen, approve, and track each volunteer. Raptor Volunteer Management is an automated school volunteer management system that streamlines the application process, tracks hours, and confirms each volunteer is safe to work with students. The system provides an integrated, customizable online volunteer application, full criminal background checks, volunteer hour tracking, event management, and robust reporting. For virtual volunteers, you can track hours even when they aren’t signing into an actual building.
“I’m able to manage more than 30,000 volunteers, process 6,000 new applications, help applicants or volunteers with any questions, complete the necessary screenings, and do all of this by myself.”
Randle Evett, Safety Specialist, Greenville County Schools, SC
Planning and Implementing Your Virtual Volunteer Program
For in-person opportunities, you also need a reliable way to screen and track everyone who comes into your buildings. Raptor Visitor Management helps thousands of schools across the nation screen students, staff, and visitors for COVID-19 exposure risk and automatically record detailed visitor logs to facilitate contact tracing when needed.
To learn more about Raptor, contact us today to schedule a personalized demo.