Teachers turn to virtual training to spot at-risk students during COVID-19 pandemic

Education

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Students are learning online for the rest of the school year and teachers are learning online, too — but on a different subject.

“A large number of students experience anxiety disorders. Fifty percent of students report signs of depression within any academic year,” said Dr. Glenn Albright. He’s the co-founder and director of research for Kognito, a health simulation company that educators have been using even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program creates role-play simulations between a virtual student and teacher.

Teachers are able to practice having difficult conversations with the virtual student before having a real conversation if they suspect depression, anxiety, abuse.

Something Albright says may be on the rise because of the pandemic.

“So how do you approach that student? How do you express your concern and find out if they are suicidal? That’s the types of conversations that Kognito offers in terms of of providing you the skills to do that,” said Albright.

He says during this time, professors should take extra time to check in with their college students and simply ask if they are okay and how they’re feeling. The psychological impact on a student, said Albright, should be not be underestimated.

“They have a very little control of what’s going on around them and the stresses within the house magnify what they were already dealing with. So they begin to experience these disorders and a more debilitating fashion.”

For children in elementary school and teenagers, Albright says teachers should focus on having a conversation about safety.

“In general, there is an increase in domestic violence occurring because of this. So if a child is feeling unsafe or threatened, that has to be addressed. You can’t expect a child or a college student to learn in that environment. The Round Rock Independent School District has been using Kognito since 2019 to help prevent suicide.

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