We were awarded a prestigious Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) grant from the NIH to help schools serving Native communities re-open safely for in-person learning. Project SafeSchools is a multi-site 2-year project focused on two main goals: 1) Helping children safely return to school settings; and 2) Informing future programming needs by understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Native children and families.
Native Americans face the highest COVID related health disparities of any racial or ethnic group. Most schools serving Native American youth were closed for long periods of time during the COVID pandemic. However, we know from prior research that school attendance and attachment are key protective factors for physical and mental health development. Helping children and families return to in-person learning safely is a key priority.
JHCIH has formed key partnerships with local schools, public health agencies and testing companies to facilitate accesses and support implementation of COVID-19 testing in schools as an added mitigation strategy. Research activities will help provide foundational knowledge about the challenges and strengths families are encountering as youth return to school to inform development of future, strengths-based intervention approaches for schools and families.