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→October 18, 2021

Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Mental Health Needs

U.S. Department of Education Releases New Resource on Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral and Mental Health during COVID-19 Era

Today, the U.S. Department of Education released a new resource: Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral and Mental Health to provide information and resources to enhance the promotion of mental health and the social and emotional well-being among children and students. This resource highlights seven key challenges to providing school- or program-based mental health support across early childhood, K–12 schools, and higher education settings, and presents seven corresponding recommendations. This resource includes many real-world examples of how the recommendations are being put into action by schools, communities, and states across the country.

State Education Agencies and local school districts can use the resources in the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program (ARP ESSER), as well as previous rounds of ESSER funds, to implement these recommendations and ensure students receive the support they need. Through ARP ESSER alone, state and local education leaders have $122 billion available to them to ensure the mental health, social, emotional, and academic needs of our students are met.

“Our efforts as educators must go beyond literacy, math, history, science, and other core subjects to include helping students to build the social, emotional, and behavioral skills they will need to fully access and participate in learning and make the most of their potential and future opportunities,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “Amid the pandemic, we know that our students have experienced so much. We can’t unlock students’ potential unless we also address the needs they bring with them to the classroom each day. As educators, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we are helping to provide students with a strong social and emotional foundation so that they also can excel academically.”

More than 18 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, it is particularly important to acknowledge the pandemic’s impact on mental health at home and around the world, to present an opportunity for meaningful conversations about mental health, and to celebrate schools and other institutions that have found new and promising ways to provide mental health services to students. This document is part of the Return to School Roadmap, which stresses the importance of supporting students’ social, emotional and mental health to create a strong foundation for students’ academic success.

This resource for educators and practitioners is intended to supplement and build on the information in the prior released ED COVID-19 Handbooks:

→October 1, 2021 

The USDE OSERS’ distributed the Return to School Roadmap which will include 3 IDEA guidance documents that focus on school reopening efforts.

  • Purpose– is to support the full implementation of IDEA requirements” for children birth to 22.

(OSERS) guidance, Development of Individualized Education Programs in the Least Restrictive Environment Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)”, as part of its Return to School Roadmap initiative.

The new Q&A focuses on developing and implementing individualized education programs (IEP) as required under IDEA. With the goal of assisting “state and local educational agencies in developing and implementing appropriate programs for students,” OSERS outlines how IEP teams can

  • Determine appropriate measurable annual goals
  • Make educational placement decisions
  • Consider special factors including social, emotional, and behavioral needs
  • Address students’ school-related health needs, including mask-wearing, during COVID-19
  • Consider the need for compensatory services
  • Resolve disagreements in the IEP process

The guidance clarifies for states and districts that services and supports provided through a child’s IEP can be paid for with IDEA Part B funds, and by state and district K-12 stimulus dollars.

→US Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluating, and Policy Development, “ED COVID-19 Handbook: Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools” August 2021 Update https://www2.ed.gov/documents/coronavirus/reopening.pdf.

  • Added language on the importance of offering in-person learning
  • Revised to emphasize the COVID-19 prevention strategies most important for in-person learning for K-12 schools based on the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidance, August 17, 2021
  • Updated to reflect that vaccination is the leading prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Updated to emphasize the need for localities to monitor
  • Updated to align with current guidance which indicates that all people should wear masks in K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status—(process for students with disabilities who cannot wear masks)

→”Promising Practices to Accelerate Learning for Students with Disabilities During COVID 19 and Beyond”  National Center on Learning Disabilities (NCLD), 2020

State Level Policies, Recommendations, and Actions  (R & A)

  • R & A Examples
  • Tutoring Programs
  • Invest in hardware, software, and in infrastructure to access and engage with virtual or blended instruction
  •  Protect and expand funding for specialized instructional support
  • Support and encourage districts to administer formative assessments regularly to assess the progress of individual students and adapt instructional approaches for students who are not making sufficient progress

National Level Policies, Recommendations and Actions

  • R & A Examples
  • Increase resources to implement accelerated learning approaches with fidelity
  • Provide states and districts with additional federal dollars in response to the
  • COVID-19 crisis
  • Increase funding for IDEA-Parts B, C, and D
  • Increase funding for ESSA-especially Titles I, II, and IV
  • Provide updated guidance on how to brand and leverage funding streams to maximize program impact
  • Pass the Cultivating Opportunity and Response to the Pandemic through service (CORPS)
  • Assist in scaling up effective tutoring programs
  • Increase funding for the State Assessment grants
  • Invest in Research to better understand the effectiveness of accelerated learning
  • approaches
  • Maintain guardrails to ensure that all students are held to and perform at high levels

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