Social Emotional Well-being

Back to Table of Content

Social Emotional Well-being

As school and district personnel adapt to environments that result in substantially less time spent interacting in-person, ensuring intentional and meaningful inclusion of social emotional learning (SEL) across all aspects of operating strategies is critical to support the well-being and success of students, staff, and families. Along with physical health and well-being, Lakeland CSD must also prioritize social emotional well-being – not at the expense of academics, but in order to create the mental, social, and emotional space to support our academic instruction and learning.

It is important to note that no matter what preparations we make, no matter how well parents have shielded their children, no matter how much outreach we have done, we are currently living in conditions that are difficult at best and traumatic at worst. We will be welcoming back staff and students who have experienced greater social isolation, loss, and stress than we have ever faced before. One of our greatest concerns is that we are well-prepared to support student engagement in learning through the creation of systems of support that will result in students being not just physically safe, but emotionally safe as well.

Multi-tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS)

The Lakeland Central School District has divided those supports into three broad categories based on a Multi-tiered system of supports model, which in turn is based in the best and most up to date science in public health and prevention. Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) is an evidence-based approach to comprehensive program delivery that addresses academic and behavioral challenges including proactive activities for all students (universal interventions), targeted activities for students identified at-risk (secondary interventions) and intensive activities for students identified at high risk (tertiary interventions). MTSS is grounded in the belief that all students can learn, and all school professionals must be responsive to the academic and behavioral needs of all students. MTSS focuses on evidence-based practices, relies on student progress data to inform instructional decisions, and ensures that each student, based on their unique needs, receives the level and type of support necessary to be successful. It is an important means of addressing equity and most importantly, ensures that all young people are provided with the support they need to thrive.

The three levels, or “Tiers” include Tier One, or Universal Supports. These are supports available to all students. The next level of support is Tier Two supports, that is, supports that are available to some students. Students who cannot have their needs met through the universal supports level are supported in Tier Two as well. This is typically about 20% of students in general, but this number may be quite a bit larger under our present conditions. The highest level of support is designated as Tier Three. This level of response is typically reserved for students who have not responded to supports at either  Tier One or Tier Two. Tier Three supports are reserved for a few students, typically around 3-5% or our students. Again, given our current circumstances, we expect to require supports for students to be at a higher level of need than they had previously been. Tiered supports are cumulative, that is, they build one on top of another. A student at Tier Three continues to receive Tier One and Tier Two supports that are appropriate to their needs. Access to the next tier is not related to exiting from the prior tier.

A strong set of universal interventions designed to support social emotional well-being will be crucial to our collective success as students and adults return to instruction and the school environment with increased needs. The supports represented in the universal tier are foundational to secondary and tertiary supports. In general, universal interventions should be effective for most students, but targeted and intensive supports will be needed to address student needs that could not be met with universal interventions. A strong foundational tier helps ensure that we are not overidentifying students and adults for tier 2 and 3 supports, which allows them to more strategically allocate resources for the higher tiers. 

Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) Roles within Multi-tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS)

Pupil personnel service (PPS) staff, which include school counselors, school social workers, school psychologists, mental health counselors and school nurses are uniquely poised to be the primary source of expertise upon which the entire school community can draw. These professionals have overlapping skills, such as counseling, assessment, consulting, collaboration, parent/school liaison, professional development for faculty and staff, and crisis response. They share in facilitating social emotional and physical well-being, strengthening family, school, and community partnerships, increasing access to instruction and promoting a positive school climate.

A key function of the school counselor’s Tier 1 role is to promote a safe and supportive learning environment for everyone in the school community. School counselors utilize their specialized knowledge of curriculum and child and adolescent development to design and implement comprehensive programs to help all students build fundamental academic, career development, and social emotional skills. School counseling programs are most effective when there is collaboration among the school counselor, other PPS staff, teachers, administrators, and families to promote a school climate that facilitates student achievement, student engagement, and equitable access to educational opportunities so that all students can reach their full potential in school and beyond. At the secondary and tertiary levels, supports become increasingly targeted to meet students’ specific needs. 

At the Tier 2 level, some of these supports may be provided by school counselors but are often referred to school social workers and school psychologists and are targeted to students identified as vulnerable due to academic, social emotional, and mental health challenges. 

At the Tier 3 level, school social workers, school psychologists, and licensed mental health counselors address a smaller number of high need students who require more specialized individual interventions and/or referral to community-based counseling and resources. As school reopens following our return to school from closure, our counselors, psychologists and school psychologists will be deployed

As a part of the district reopening plan, during the superintendent’s conference days, staff will be trained in topics related to discussing and supporting students with covid 19 related discussions. Professional Development will be offered during the superintendent conference days in using both new and legacy resources and interventions that will be used to support students. The district will also continue to support EAP resources for staff who require emotional support or assistance or wellness coaching.

Upon reopening, the Lakeland CSD District Counseling plan will incorporate the following elements to address our return from the Covid 19 closure. The Mental Health Task force will continue to serve as an advisory counsel as school reopens to monitor the implementation of our Social Emotional Well-being response and School Counseling plan.

Tier One Supports

Universal Screening (a typically developing child may be predicted to return to school displaying some level of distress)

  • Multi-gate screening procedures include student self-report at each building level.
  • The district will have social emotional screening tools made available to attach to Google classrooms.
  • Parents will be provided the opportunity to report their child’s emotional status upon reentry if they have a concern.
  • Students will be allowed to self-report their status.
  • Engagement data will be collected to flag students who might need a check-in.

Preparation for return to a changed school environment

  • Back to school videos and video conferencing will be provided by buildings to assist with acclimation to changes in the school environment (all levels, before we go back),
  • Students with severe disabilities may be brought in for early acclimation.

Youth Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Training

Youth Mental Health First Aid is an intervention training that is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD), and eating disorders. 

Lakeland Central School District has assigned two District staff to be district YMHFA trainers. Those staff will become nationally certified Trainers for YMHFA. Currently All clinical staff have received training and are available to be staff resources. A district training plan will be implemented to make this training available to all staff, and eventually to parents as well once district staff have been trained.

Mindfulness Practices Curriculum

Mindfulness is a set of mental practices and disciplines that encourages us to be focused on the present moment rather than be distracted by rumination about the past or the future. Mindfulness practices incorporate breathing exercises, cognitive behavioral techniques and meditation to achieve a more relaxed state of mind. Mindfulness research points to numerous benefits, everything from decreased stress and sadness to increased levels of focus and happiness.

Building administrators are encouraged to schedule mindfulness times into the day. Times during the schedule where we set aside ten minutes for peaceful reflection and the use of the techniques we have available to us.

While there are many resources available to us, Headspace is an application that is free to educators and is available as a resource for staff to use in their classrooms.

Rituals and routines around Covid-19 precautions added to classroom entry work. School Building will provide opportunities for teachers to spend time on teaching the new safety requirements

  • Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) style expectations for use of PPE and other health and wellness
  • Pro-social Behaviors training social distancing, safe displays of affection, etc.
  • Restating and reinforcing calming statements to students about new procedures
  • Implement and reinforce social distancing, maintaining proper hygiene (handwashing, face coverings)
  • Reminders about classroom entry and seating procedures
  • Reminders about sharing expectations
  • Reinforce hand washing during key points of classroom time
  • Follow reporting procedures for students who exhibit symptoms
  • Utilize classroom seating arrangement that matches distancing guidelines
  • Classroom guidance visits from counselors being expectations (in combination with guidance calendar of events). 
  • Expectations for how to respond to students who are resistant to following expectations for PPE. 
  • Senior Check-ins
Tier Two Supports
  • School Buildings will re-deploy School Counselors, Psychologists and Social Workers time for greater accessibility during reentry acclimation.
  • Allocate times of day for student walk-ins, virtual walk-ins, and check-ins
  • Clinical staff will maintain high visibility so that students can easily identify them
  • Supporting Students at Home
  • School psychologist, social workers, guidance counselors check in with students not attending school in person
  • Students attending the Bridge program will have supports available to support school reentry for them and additional coaching for parents
Tier Three Supports
  • Grief supports for students: School staff and community agencies will support the availability of bereavement groups available for all students in school. 
  • Community Services: Lakeland CSD will involve community partnerships in the provision of service (Including Student Assistance Counselors, Andrus Clinics,  Bereavement Center of Westchester, and the Westchester and Putnam Departments of Social Services and etc.) We will be using partnerships to deliver services where we lack the capacity or expertise required to serve the student needs presented. Dialectical Behavior Therapy supports used as an intervention frame for students.
  • Trauma-informed practices: The District will provide training and support for staff in the area of Trauma-informed practices and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) Senior Support for Transition (graduation ceremonies, college, etc.)