According to this ERS power point presentation, researchers confirm that isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic is leading to a “mental health tsunami.” Many students are returning to school with additional trauma as a result of this upheaval. Black and Latinx communities are suffering from higher death rates and job loss. The pandemic has also accentuated issues of race-based trauma, race-based adversity, discrimination, and challenges to well-being.

This presentation emphasizes the focusing on social, emotional, and cognitive development is a core function of schools, especially for children and youth who have experienced trauma or adversity. Dedicated, explicit SEL learning opportunities and instruction have a demonstrated and positive impact on students. Also, to be most effect, SEL must be integrated across the school day, including during academic instruction.

Research on SEL and support emphasizes three major findings: (1) Positive, safe, relationships-based environments promote social, emotional, and academic development; (2) Access to mental health services is key for students’ well-being and development, but is often insufficient; and (3) Family engagement supports a safe school environment, ensuring that students feel more supported within a safer school climate.

The CARES Act (ESSER I) includes allowable uses of funds related to preventing, preparing for, and responding to the impact of COVID-19. The authors suggest that such funding should be used to provided dedicated and embedded SEL instruction; reinforce a safe and positive learning environment; promote family engagement; and expand counseling supports.

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