To promote student well-being and academic engagement during the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism by prioritizing social emotional learning (SEL).
WHEREAS students are facing increased anxiety as a result of: shifting social distancing requirements and social isolation; fear of illness for themselves, peers, family and friends; inequitable impacts of the pandemic that highlight systemic racism in our society, uncertainty of their future in school and life; and financial insecurity that may result in hunger or stress at home;
WHEREAS young people with strong social and emotional skills are better able to cope with challenges, build in protective factors for mental wellness, heal from trauma, engage academically, take individual and collective action to promote social justice, and experience long-term social, professional, academic, and community success;
WHEREAS, social emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which all young people and adults learn and apply culturally responsive knowledge, skills, and attitudes anchored by emotional agility to engage in responsible decision making, form healthy identities, incorporate empathy for others across differences, and establish and maintain supportive relationships;
WHEREAS, SEL includes competencies that promote antiracism, such as self-advocacy, understanding of power structures, and collective action for social change;
WHEREAS, SEL competencies develop throughout our lives and are essential to achieving equity in our schools, workplaces, homes, and communities and allow individuals to contribute meaningfully and collaboratively to our shared Commonwealth;
WHEREAS educators and other youth development professionals with strong social emotional skills can navigate stressors, foster positive learning environments at a distance or in person, and implement SEL with greater fidelity;
WHEREAS social emotional skills are both teachable and measurable, and evidence-based SEL programs have already been successfully implemented in schools and community-based organizations across the Commonwealth with young people from preschool through high school and higher education;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that SEL4MA urges all schools and other youth serving organizations in Massachusetts to implement SEL in in-person and virtual environments, and to conduct ongoing training of staff to ensure SEL implementation is culturally responsive and equitably meets the needs of all students.