Schools Prioritize Social Emotional Learning To Help Students Cope With Emotional Toll Of COVID Pandemic

School leaders are navigating uncharted territory after an unimaginable year, establishing a healthy foundation to make up for lost time. CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports.

Video Transcript

- Today, communities around the world are celebrating the importance of social emotional learning, especially during the pandemic.

- Teachers are learning to respond to the needs of their students. CBS 2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: These pre-K students at PS 73 in the Bronx start their day with a five minute meditation. This is one example of social emotional learning that focuses on mental health and overall wellness.

VIVAN BUENO: When you do social emotional learning, you have less behavioral issues. You're checking in. Not only with the children, but you're also checking in with the staff. You're checking in with parents.

I feel proud, because almost all of my students are here.

- Social emotional learning was already important at the school, but the pandemic made it even more of a priority. Friday, schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter got to experience firsthand how it's integrated into the curriculum as the Department of Education plans on adding more students in person starting next month.

MEISHA ROSS PORTER: Folks have been disconnected socially, removed from schools, isolated, so ensuring that we have mental health services and supports in place is going to be critical.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: One out of every 10 people in the Concourse Highbridge section have been diagnosed with COVID, and at one point, the unemployment rate in the Bronx topped 20%.

- If we want to address learning loss, learning gap, and all of the language connected that, we first have to address the hearts and minds of our young people and our educators that are coming back into buildings.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: That includes hiring 150 social workers and adding community schools to neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID along with creating a summer school program that provides more support.

VIVAN BUENO: We don't know what the fallout of this pandemic is going to be. We're in it.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: School leaders are navigating uncharted territory after an unimaginable year, establishing a healthy foundation to make up for lost time. In the Highbridge Concourse section of the Bronx, Aundrea Cline-Thomas, CBS 2 News.

- The principal says, students learning remotely need more social emotional support than students who learn in the classroom, and those services are provided virtually.