How to Restart Your PBIS Program After Coronavirus School Closures

How to Restart Your PBIS Program

As school restarts for the fall, school leadership and staff are planning for the start of a new school year. With months of digital learning and shifts in policies and procedures, teachers and staff are gearing up for a new approach to learning. This shift will require flexibility, clear communication and anticipation for the unexpected. 

In many cases, schools are rebooting their PBIS program and thinking about how to shift to a virtual or hybrid model and plan for implementing PBIS in a more creative way. In anticipation of bringing students back and finding ways to engage learning with the new models, here are a few things to consider:

  • Changes in daily routines
  • Out-of-school learning environments 
  • Changes in tools and resources
  • Access to learning materials

With these factors in mind, it is important to consider the social and emotional health of students. Teachers and staff should discuss how students may respond to different behavior interventions after not being in a formal school setting in the past months. 

Although the format for PBIS will shift due to new school systems and structure, the foundation of PBIS still exists. Now more than ever, students will need a safe and supportive learning environment that provides some structure and responds to student needs. This new version of your PBIS strategy will have to reflect the various experiences of students as well as working through the adjustments in home and school life. 

The reality for so many students is that they are now in the home for more hours in the day. There may be some other family members with them and perhaps they are experiencing a range of emotions during this time. PBIS can be a responsive tool for staff to engage and support students as they return to a new school year in this environment. 

5 Ideas to Restart Your PBIS Program

 Review your data

At this pivotal juncture, reviewing student data and effectiveness of the previous PBIS strategy provides some insight on the direction of the upcoming plans. The good news is, there is an opportunity to use that information to make shifts. If you have been hesitant or uncertain about a reward and recognition strategy or how to roll out interventions, use the data to inform those decisions. What the data won’t tell you is how students have been impacted by the time off. There will need to be some short-term assessments in the first month or two in order to determine if there was a shift in student needs.

 Get creative with rewards

New student models may include in-person, hybrid learning or full-time at home. Leverage technology to advance previous reward systems. To get an idea about what makes students incentivized during this time, take a class poll or invite students to share what has been motivating to them during the stay-at-home orders. These ideas can always be used with tiered supports throughout the school week. 

Create short term plans 

We all are all unsure about how long we will have stay-at-home orders or limited in-person engagement so creating PBIS calendars for the short-term is helpful. This will allow school leadership and staff to pivot if there are any major changes throughout the fall. When building your school’s PBIS strategy, consider the cycles for data review and reward programs over fewer weeks to ensure you are able to measure success in a timely manner but also that students have the opportunity to experience the rewards. This flexible plan allows the school staff to be prepared for any disruptions due to the pandemic or safety guidelines.

→ Read about some best practices when planning for a virtual learning space

 Make connections 

Students are receiving directives in many ways about their health and safety. This is not different from practicing classroom norms and rules while in school. As a part of the PBIS plan, students integrate skills that create safe and fun learning environments such as communication and classroom rules. This can continue by connecting the health safety guidelines like social distancing or washing hands, to the expectations of keeping students safe and focusing on a good learning environment. 

This is a great opportunity to encourage students to communicate with each other about their space or for students to take leadership in modeling hand washing procedures. Not only does PBIS reinforce the need for practicing skills that keep students safe and learning but connecting them to the realities of the student experience only makes it easier to understand.

 Engage parents or guardians

Being at home with family members and in community also means students are engaging with more people outside of school for increased amounts of time. As you restart your PBIS program, be sure to include families and community members so they can support you with reiterating skills and practices and also encourage them to give you insight into how their student is adjusting. Consider developing a guide for caregivers in how to use PBIS and ways they can support their students socially and emotionally.

The multi-tiered framework of PBIS supports school efforts in creating procedures that impact all of their students. It can be a flexible plan that addresses changing social and emotional behaviors that may arise as a result of the pandemic. It is important to recognize that some students are experiencing the trauma of the pandemic or the impact of other events in this moment in time. PBIS can provide some structure and support for students. 

If you are an administrator and you are new to the idea of PBIS or perhaps you need support in launching your efforts, check out Kickboard’s School Principal & Administrator’s Guide to Implementing PBIS. There are a number of tools that can help build a PBIS strategy to advance your efforts. Getting back to school for students will look really different this year but PBIS brings a sense of normalcy and balance for students.