COVID-19 Recommendation: Pause All In-Person Mentoring
In response to Governor Scott’s Amended Executive Order today (November 13), MENTOR Vermont strongly recommends that all youth mentoring programs in Vermont pause all in-person mentoring until further notice and mentor matches focus on staying connected remotely.
Read Executive Director Chad Butt’s full statement for more information.
Click HERE to view an overview of MENTOR Vermont’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
About This Page:
MENTOR Vermont realizes that this is an uncertain time for everyone.
Below we have compiled recommendations for safe and effective mentoring during the pandemic, resources about COVID-19 and how to talk to youth about it, and resources/ideas for supporting families. We will continue to add to this list as more information becomes available.
As the pandemic continues, we realize that mentoring programs may be seeking guidance in continuing to adjust their programs to improve their offerings and adjust as new safety recommendations come out. Learn more about considerations your program may want to make by reviewing our Considerations for Mentoring During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
While some mentoring programs will or already have begun to resume in-person mentoring, we realize that this will look very different from program to program, and many programs may only be able to operate remotely during the 2020-2021 school year. According to Secretary of Education Dan French, both mentoring staff members and mentors fall under the Agency of Education’s definition and guidelines for “contracted service providers” and can be allowed inside a school; however, school districts and supervisory unions will need to make their local decisions whether to offer in-person mentoring at their schools based on their needs, constraints, and ability to meet all other guidelines put forth by the State. Download our school-based mentoring guidance letter for more information.
Additionally, all programs that are allowing for physically distanced in-person mentoring to resume should also continue offering remote mentoring as well. MENTOR Vermont strongly recommends that in-person mentoring only resume for a mentor match if the mentor, mentee, and the mentee’s family all discuss how to do so safely with the program coordinator and opt in to mentoring happening in person again. Please refer to our list of recommendations and don’t hesitate to reach out for support as you determine how mentoring will look for your program in the months to come.
During this confusing time for everyone, and especially youth, it is important that mentors maintain contact (even if they can’t meet in person) with their mentees if they are able. Here are some suggestions of alternative ways mentors can interact with their mentees depending on the model of the program they participate in. Mentors, please be sure to check with your program if you aren’t sure of what mediums of communication are approved by your program before using them to communicate with your mentee.
- Send Letters: Mentors can email the program coordinator messages for their mentees and the coordinator can print it out and mail it to the mentee.
- Conference (3-way) call with mentor, mentee, and coordinator.
- Matches can maintain consistent contact via
- Phone or text
- Messaging apps (Whatsapp, Snapchat, etc.)
- Social media
- Video chats
- Mail letters
- Discuss how the coronavirus is impacting them (see resources below)
- Plan out activities to do when you are able to meet in-person again
- Play online games together
- Read the same book and discuss it when you talk each week
- Watch a movie at the same time and discuss
- Send a photo to each other each day
ECHO at Home Learning
The ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain continues to offer opportunities for mentors and mentees to play and learn! From engineering challenges to Science & Stories and ECHO-themed coloring pages, the new ECHO at Home webpage has what you need for inspired science learning at home. Activities use simple materials commonly found around the house and encourage youth to safely explore outside. Check back often and have fun learning! Video learning sessions are updated weekly.
Have other ideas that we should add? Email [email protected] and we can add to this list.
We also encourage you to visit MENTOR National’s Coronavirus Tips and Resources for Mentoring page.
And download the Search Institute’s Building Developmental Relationships During the COVID-19 Crisis checklist for 19 ways to connect with young people during this time.
Vermont Department of Health Resource Page:
University of Vermont Health Network Resource Page:
Office of Governor Phil Scott: Press releases from the governor’s office, including details on the state’s efforts to address COVID-19.
Statewide Media Feeds with COVID-19 News:
- Watch Dr. David Anderson’s Keynote Address from the 2020 Vermont Mentoring Symposium, “Supporting Youth in the Time of COVID: Strategies to Build Relationships and Better Manage Stress and Uncertainty.”
- Print and share the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations’ “Wearing Masks” storybook
- Review this guide on trauma
- Read this Talking to Children About COVID-19 resource
- Share this Comic Exploring The New Coronavirus with youth
- Refer to Dr. Jean Rhodes’ guidelines for mentors and caregivers from the Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring (includes age-specific recommendations)
- Dial 2-1-1 or visit: https://vermont211.org for help connecting with resources
- COVID-19 Testing
- For the latest information about testing from the VT Department of Health visit: https://www.healthvermont.gov/response/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-covid-19
- Food Access Questions
- We encourage you to visit Hunger Free Vermont’s “COVID-19 and Food Access” page.
- Free High-Speed Internet during the Pandemic:
- Comcast Internet Essentials
Throughout Vermont (where Comcast service is available), families of youth who qualify for free or reduced lunch can receive two free months of high-speed internet access. This program also operates throughout the year at a cost of $9.95 a month for qualified families.
- Burlington Telecom
Offering free high-speed internet access to families of Burlington K-12 students during the school closures.
- Comcast Internet Essentials
- Resources available in languages other than English:
- Vermont Department Health COVID-19 Resources
Access translated versions of resources by visiting www.healthvermont.gov/media/translation/covid-19-translations.
- Informational COVID-19 PSA Videos (produced/shared by Alison Segar from Spectrum’s Multicultural Youth Program)
Full Playlist Available Here on YouTube
Translations are available in the following languages: Arabic, Bosnian, Dinka, French, Lingala, Nepali, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, and Vietnamese.
- New Americans in Vermont Website
Contains all of the videos in other languages listed above as well as links to information in American Sign Language, and other important resources related to food and internet access for the Greater Burlington area.
- Vermont Department Health COVID-19 Resources
Embracing an Antiracist Approach to Inaccurate Information About COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
As our Vermont mentoring community works together to disrupt racist, inaccurate information about the coronavirus (information that is harmful to our mentees and mentors), below are three articles that offer helpful strategies and information.
- Search Institute: Resisting the Pandemic of Prejudice, Reclaiming the Power of Relationships
- Teaching Tolerance: Speaking Up Against Racism Around the New Coronavirus
- From Facing History: Protect Yourself and Stand Against Racism
As new COVID-19 funding opportunities for mentoring programs arise, we will list them here!
Since the start of the pandemic, MENTOR Vermont has helped secure and/or administered the following emergency funding:
- Federal Payroll Protection Program (PPP): Supported mentoring agencies in applying for PPP loans through the Federal CARES Act, and 100% of applicants reported receiving funding.
- $50,000 VT Community Foundation COVID-19 Response Grant: Received funding through the Vermont Community Foundation COVID-19 Response Fund to provide grants to help mentoring programs maintain current mentor matches and adjust their program models to the current reality of the pandemic. This funding was incorporated into the 2020-2021 Vermont Mentoring Grants.
- Mentoring COVID-19 Response Grants: MENTOR Vermont and the Vermont Department For Children and Families (DCF) reallocated $174,000 in federal funding from their larger Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention grant to provide three-month (September-June) COVID-19 Response grants to programs.
Through MENTOR Vermont’s and the Vermont Department of Children and Families’ OJJDP Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative Category 5 grant, MENTOR Vermont was able to work with Amy Syvertsen, director of applied qualitative research at the Search Institute and member of the National Mentoring Resource Center Research Board, to develop and implement the COVID-19 Response Mentoring Surveys. The COVID-19 Surveys are available and encouraged for all youth mentoring programs in Vermont but administering this survey is optional.
The goals of the surveys are to:
- Understand — quantitatively and qualitatively — what mentoring relationships look like, how they have changed, and the impact of maintaining mentoring relationships during COVID-19 (including in-person mentoring with social distancing and remote mentoring).
- Identify barriers and ways to improve mentoring in a pandemic (and, remote mentoring and social distance mentoring more generally).
Is your mentoring program interested in administering the surveys?