Skip To Content

New Report Illustrates How CA Charter Schools Are Supporting Students’ Wellbeing During Pandemic

December 18, 2020

SACRAMENTO— As California public schools head into a week-long break for the holidays, many educators are reflecting on the wellbeing of their students. Research shows an increasing number of students in the state – especially underserved students – are suffering emotionally and mentally due to the stress of the pandemic and the isolation of remote instruction. In addition, an alarming number of families are now facing food insecurity due to job loss.     

The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) believes this is a critical time for the state’s K-12 system to learn from charter public schools that are leveraging their existing support systems to closely monitor students’ wellbeing and provide personalized supports. To that end, CCSA released a study today entitled How California’s Charter Schools Are Supporting Students’ Social Emotional Needs which outlines strategies that schools can adopt to support the ‘whole student’ during times of loss and uncertainty.

“Along with protecting the health and safety of students and staff, we recognize the crucial importance of children’s social and emotional wellbeing,” said Myrna Castrejón, CCSA president and CEO. “As a state, we need to be collectively asking the question, ‘Are the kids OK?’ and doing everything in our power to build a social and emotional scaffold around students so they and their families can get the help they desperately need.” 

How California’s Charter Schools Are Supporting Students’ Social Emotional Needs is the fourth installment of CCSA’s Portrait of the Movement 2020 series which focuses on how charter public schools adapted to challenges brought on by the pandemic. Effective strategies highlighted in this study include:

  • Adopt a “tiered” system of support in which all students receive some kind of assistance, with higher-risk students getting more direct support
  • Assemble a “social/emotional support team” that consistently communicates with students and families to identify and address needs 
  • Administer daily surveys to understand gaps in support
  • Realign staff roles to support food delivery or food distribution programs

In the study, CCSA names CORE Butte Charter School as a “bright spot” in California for its focus on combating social and emotional distress among its students. 

The nonclassroom-based K-12 charter school offers classes at sites in Chico and Paradise, California. Two years ago, CORE Butte families and educators in Paradise lost everything when the Camp Fire ripped through the mountain community. Following this tragedy, the charter school adopted a tiered system of support so that higher-risk students received more interventions.

“I think with tragedy comes unity,” said Mary Cox, Executive Director of CORE Butte. “Something happens when you’re engaged in a traumatic event together [as a community]. You want to support each other and reach out to each other. Now, during the pandemic, we’re doing everything we can to ensure students and families aren’t feeling isolated.”

How California’s Charter Schools Are Supporting Students’ Social Emotional Needs also includes information about how students and families are benefitting from meal provision programs offered by charter schools since spring 2020. CCSA Director of Research Jennifer Kress says charters are leveraging their flexibility and creative thinking so that students do not going hungry during the pandemic. 

How California’s Charter Schools Are Supporting Students’ Social Emotional Needs is the final installment in CCSA’s Portrait of the Movement 2020. Collectively, the suite of studies offers valuable insight as it relates to the performance of charter schools during the global pandemic – from preventing learning loss to narrowing the digital divide.

To access the latest report, click here. To access all of the studies in CCSA’s Portrait of the Movement 2020, click here.

For more information or for interview requests, contact CCSA Director of Media Relations and Research Ana Tintocalis at