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How Are School Districts Addressing Student Social-Emotional Needs during the Pandemic?

Since March 2020, CRPE has tracked remote learning trends in school districts across the country. In this brief, we look at how our nationally representative sample of 477 school districts attended to students’ social-emotional learning and well-being in fall 2020.

Students’ social-emotional learning and well-being was a concern before the COVID-19 pandemic. But it is an even bigger issue now, as students and teachers cope with the pressures of not only the pandemic and social isolation, but also the nation’s reckoning with law enforcement violence against Black people, the ongoing economic crisis, and threats to American democracy.

In light of these challenges, we wanted to see whether districts’ remote learning and school reopening plans mentioned social-emotional learning and, if so, in what ways. After reviewing public information available online in our representative sample of school districts, we found:

  • Most district plans (66 percent) mentioned students’ social-emotional learning and well-being.
  • When it comes to supporting students, district plans were more likely to focus on creating safe environments (47 percent) than teaching social-emotional skills (31 percent). Of the approaches we reviewed, advisories and morning meetings were the most common ways districts supported students.
  • Despite the clear interest in students’ social-emotional learning and well-being, we also found very few districts (7 percent) taking a systemwide approach to collecting data on how their students were doing.
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