Post COVID-19: Social Emotional Learning is Job #1 to Effectively Re-Opening Schools

by Rick Phillips, Founder of Community Matters

In this COVID-19 upside down world there is no returning to business as usual, and there is no going back to the way it was. Our communities, our country and our world have been altered like never before. So, when schools re-open job number one must be to ensure that students feel, safe, welcome and connected to caring adults.

Imagine what is must be like for the millions of young people, (K-12) cut off from their schools, their friends, teachers, coaches and all the other caring adults who support them day in and day out. Imagine what it’s like for them not knowing who among the staff and students may not be there when they return. Imagine what emotions our children are experiencing, isolated and cut off from the familiar safety nets that are no longer in place. And imagine what they are going to need from the entire school staff when they finally get to go back to school.

We understand that the anxiety, uncertainty and trauma our children and young people are experiencing is also being felt by educators and families as well. School staffs, from the principal to the bus driver will be in need of support and some coaching on how best to come back to work and address their own self-care needs, as well as being prepared to assist students in their re-entry.

We all want the best outcomes for our schools. And for schools to be successful we need to understand that there will be intense pressure to catch up and get back to learning immediately.  However, let’s be clear that the educational outcomes of

  • positive attendance
  • high achievement and
  • few discipline incidents

occur best when we adhere to the following axiom: Students don’t care what we know. . . until they know we care.

This is corroborated by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), who in the largest longitudinal study of young people and schools found that “the best predictor for student success is connectivity”.

Focusing on school climate and social-emotional learning (SEL) has been the heart of our mission at Community Matters for more than 20 years. We have partnered with thousands of schools in more than 40 states providing strategies, programs and services that strengthen school climate, reduce bullying, cyber-bullying and harassment, and equip staff with the tools and skills needed to connect and build strong relationships with their students.

Our team of dedicated staff and trainers are working diligently (remotely) to address the needs of schools by designing online services for distance learning while schools are operating remotely. And when schools do open, we will be there, ready to provide effective and proven resources, trainings and programs designed to address the social and emotional needs of all members of school communities.

When we lead with our courage, when we plan from the “heart” and when we put people and relationships first, especially in these turbulent times we are being our better angels, better citizens, better educators, and better people.

Please contact us at Community Matters to learn more about how we can support you and your entire school community as you welcome students back to school. Visit our website at or call us at 707.823.6159.