In planning for our re-entry in September, the District has formed subcommittees to examine the guidance provided by the Department of Health and NYSED for our re-entry in the fall. We are aware of the importance of supporting our students during this time, for both their academic and social-emotional needs.
We are committed to prioritizing social emotional well-being - not at the expense of academics, but in order to create the mental, social and emotional space to access rigorous academic content with confidence. In support of this belief, a Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) team comprised of certified school counselors, licensed mental health professionals, and school administrators developed a cohesive plan to support and promote an emotionally and physically safe school community. The plan outlines the measures that will be used to identify, support, and develop the social emotional competencies that students and staff will need to be successful during the 2020-2021 school year.
The following considerations guided our SEL planning:
Emotional reactions to coming out of quarantine may include
- Mixed emotions, including relief after quarantine
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Stress from the experience of monitoring yourself or being monitored by others for signs and symptoms of COVID-19
- Sadness, anger, or frustration because friends or loved ones have unfounded fears of contracting the disease from contact with you, even though you have been determined not to be contagious
- Guilt about not being able to perform normal work or parenting duties during quarantine
- Other emotional or mental health changes
Addressing Social-Emotional Health
- Establish/sustain a culture that supports and emphasizes mental health services available for faculty, staff, students and families
- Assist in adequate training for staff/faculty as requested to assist them in understanding:
- Social Emotional Learning (SEL) competencies; self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making
- The warning signs for quarantine related mental health needs
- How to access crisis support and other mental health services
The SEL team identified three priority areas- Relationships, Routines, and Resilience- that will serve as the foundation for supporting students and staff in each of the learning models. As a District, we have made a commitment to reserving the first few days of school to intentionally focus on:
- Relationships- Students and staff need to feel supported and connected in order to be successful in teaching and learning.
- Routines- Students and staff need to have predictable systems and structures in place in order to feel safe and adjust to the new expectations for learning and teaching.
- Resilience- Students and staff need coping skills to help them “survive and thrive” throughout the challenges of the 2020-2021 school year.
The SEL Task Force has established the following protocols to support and promote the social emotional well- being of students and staff:
- Social Emotional Learning Committee- The District currently has a Social Emotional Learning Committee (SEL) that meets on a monthly basis. This committee has representation from a variety of stakeholders within the school community including, mental health staff, school counselors, teachers, and administrators. The focus of this committee is to evaluate and enhance our district SEL programs and practices. The SEL Committee will reconvene in September to discuss the SEL plan and make recommendations based on the needs of students and staff.
- Universal Screening Tool- A developmentally appropriate screening tool will be implemented for all students in grades 3-12, staff and families. The data collected from this screening tool will be used to create a plan to address the social emotional needs of students and staff.
- Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS)- In an effort to ensure that all students have access to SEL programs and supports, each building will have a multi-tiered system of support in place for SEL interventions.
- Staff Wellness- Supporting the social emotional wellness of our staff is a priority. Staff will be provided with SEL/wellness resources to help manage and cope with stress in healthy ways.
- Counseling Program- An advisory council will be established to review the comprehensive developmental school counseling program. The plan will be updated in the fall to include the MTSS framework.
- Professional Development- All staff will participate in a variety of professional development opportunities that focus on the District’s three priority areas- Relationships, Routines, and Resilience. In addition, our SEL Student Assistance Counselor will provide staff with a “Playbook” that includes easy to implement check-in strategies, SEL activities, and mindfulness strategies.
- Resources and Referrals- The school counselors and mental health staff at each building will provide resources and referrals to address mental health, behavioral and emotional support services and programs.