LA CROSSE/EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Virtual schooling is giving educators new access to their students’ home life as they log into the classroom from their homes. First News at Nine’s Carla Rogner explains how this new schooling format could lead teachers to notice signs of abuse, and what social workers say they can do about it.
The transition from the classroom to the computer is giving teachers a new look at the inside of their students’ homes.
Something Tasha Alexander, a social work manager for Eau Claire County Department of Human Services says, could help educators notice signs of abuse they might not have before.
Tasha Alexander, Social Work Manager, Family Services Department, said, “I think some of the differences are seeing the children in their home environment there could be physical observations that the staff has not previously had the experience of having as frequently.
At the same time, Alexander says it could make teachers’ jobs as mandatory reports a little harder. There might be some possibilities that the certainty of whether a situation is reportable or not might become more ambiguous.
“Observations are one thing. If a child is participating in virtual learning, and the person who is threatening them is in the room that may have an impact on their ability or willingness or feeling of being safe they may impact their ability to talk about it,” said Alexander.
Kaying Xiong Director of Student Services at the Eau Claire Area School District says this is a responsibility that teachers are prepared to take on.
Xiong said, “They are really just asked to take note of anything that appears to be concerning to notice changes in behavior over time and take note of typical child behavioral problems and those that point to abuse and neglect behavioral problems.”
And if something is concerning, teachers are trained to report it and let DHS investigate from there.
“One of the overall challenges we have with not being in the building is you really just can’t look at the child overall and decide so it is about that relationship building so the child can share if and when something goes wrong,” said Xiong.
Alexander says teachers should make sure students know they still have a safe person to talk to, even thought it might be over a computer screen.
Carla Rogner, First News at Nine.