As the School Year Resumes Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Senators Lead Resolution Supporting Social & Emotional Learning Programs for Students

Social & emotional learning programs have been shown to improve students’ academic outcomes, graduation rates, and test scores while reducing bullying, violent delinquency, mental health issues, and alcohol use

[WASHINGTON, DC] – With the school year resuming amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Angus King (I-ME) led the introduction of a resolution supporting social and emotional learning programs for students. The resolution expresses support for the implementation of evidence-based programs into classroom and virtual school curriculums to help students cope with the uncertainties and pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic they may be experiencing at school and at home.

“We must equip our students with proven social and emotional learning skills to help them succeed amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Blumenthal. “I am proud to co-sponsor this important resolution to ensure our students have the tools to successfully tackle the difficulties, stresses, and traumas of this pandemic. Social and emotional learning programs help students understand and deal with their emotions, and teach them how to navigate social situations. These programs have a proven track record of helping students involved and are an invaluable investment in our youth, helping them thrive now and throughout their lives.”

“We rely on schools to teach our children more than just their letters and numbers. In the classroom, kids are taught essential social and emotional skills that they’ll use for the rest of their lives to develop positive relationships and manage their emotions,” said Durbin. “With many kids isolated from their peers for remote learning this school year, it’s more important than ever that these social and emotional lessons are integrated into curriculum to guide children through their anxieties around the COVID-19 pandemic and provide them with the tools to face any challenges they may encounter in the future.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created an entirely new level of stress and anxiety for many children and teenagers in New Hampshire and across the country,” said Hassan. “Social and emotional learning programs will help children and young adults adjust to challenging situations like the one we’re in now, and give them the tools that they need to maintain a healthy mindset. I am pleased to introduce this resolution that emphasizes the importance of social and emotional learning, and I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this important measure.”

“When we talk about preparing our students for success, it can’t just be about teaching them the state capitals and multiplication tables – we need to make sure we’re supporting their social and emotional development,” said King. “This need is even more important during the coronavirus pandemic, which has upended students’ routines, challenged their support systems, and forced them to stay socially distant from the normal, personal encouragement of friends and classmates. This resolution hammers home these clear truths, and reminds our Congressional colleagues that we must step up and provide support as schools adjust to meet these unprecedented times.”

Social and emotional learning programs teach students about their emotions, goal achievement, empathy, positive relationships, and responsibility, and have been shown to help students with handling challenging situations and helping them succeed in their learning and in their future. These programs have been shown to improve academic outcomes for students involved by an average of 11 percent, including boosting learning motivation, mastery of subject matter, school attendance, graduation rates, and grades, while reducing problem behaviors like bullying, improving health outcomes, and lowering violent delinquency and heavy alcohol use.

The resolution was also endorsed by the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), LEGO, and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

“Social and emotional development is the foundation which allows academic learning to grow and flourish,” said CAPSS Executive Director Fran Rabinowitz. “It has always been important in education but never more important than right now. Senator Blumenthal’s resolution will allow us as educators to have the resources to address the fear, anxiety and the experiences of injustice that our students will bring to us as a result of COVID-19 isolation. We will be empowered to remedy these needs with new and creative strategies which will allow every child to regain confidence and accelerate learning.”

“The LEGO Group believes that all children should have equitable access to safe, play-based social and emotional learning opportunities,” said Executive Vice President of the Americas at the LEGO Group Skip Kodak. “Now more than ever, children face challenging life circumstances. Evidence shows hands-on playful learning experiences in school and at home help children lower stress and develop social and emotional skills like self-awareness and responsible decision making. We applaud the leadership of Senator Blumenthal, Senator Hassan, Senator Durbin, and Senator King in raising federal awareness around this issue.”

“SEL is the universal life jacket, keeping both educators and students afloat during these uncertain and stressful times,” said Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence Director and Permission To Feel author Marc Brackett. “Creating psychologically safe learning environments that nurture children’s and adults’ social and emotion skills is the key to well-being and success in school and in life.”

The full text of the Senate resolution can be found here.

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