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Making Sense of NYSED Recommendations on School Reopening

10 August 2020 |

Resources and Recommendations

“Social emotional wellbeing must be schools’ and districts’ top priority in supporting school transitions, not at the expense of academics, but in order to create the mental, social, and emotional space for academic learning to occur.” 


New York State Education Department’s (NYSED) guidance document, Recovering, Rebuilding, Renewing: The Spirit of New York’s Schools, for re-opening or partially re-opening schools this fall prioritizes support for students’ social emotional development. 

The team at Whole Child Connection has reviewed this guidance related to social emotional well-being carefully with an eye toward helping districts unpack the requirements and determine how to meet them.  Under each guideline below you will find a list of ways in which your district may already be on its way to meeting the requirement as well as resources to support next steps. 

Whole Child Connection staff are committed to supporting you during this difficult period of transition. For questions or conversation about these requirements, contact us at connection [at] 


Recommendation 1: Communicate social emotional well-being and learning as a priority and engage members of the school community in implementation efforts. 


Recommendation 2: Identify or build a team to lead your implementation. Decide how students, staff, and family will contribute. 

  • Many districts (especially those who have engaged in the Whole Child Connection’s district-wide or school-wide needs assessment and consultation process) already have whole child health, wellness, or SEL teams in place. Use or reinstate existing teams rather than creating a new one to take advantage of consistency and existing working relationships.  Invite new members to join to ensure representation of your students, staff, and families.   

  • Use CASEL’s guide to building a transition coalition


Recommendation 3: Consider a prolonged orientation or transition period to support the social and emotional well-being and resiliency before phasing in academic content 


Recommendation 4: The district’s school counseling/guidance program should be reviewed and revised to plan, develop, and implement a MultiTiered System of Supports (MTSS). As part of an MTSS framework, SEL, mental health, and well-being supports offered at all levels should reflect schoolwide implementation of effective, efficient, and evidence-based practices and strategies that all students can access. 


Recommendation 5: Offer all staff opportunities to heal together, to build strong, mutually supportive relationships, and to process their own emotions, including bus drivers, cafeteria workers, office workers, nurses, pupil personnel services staff, and administrators. 


Recommendation 6: Leverage Transformative SEL to support the work of adult anti-racism and anti-bias work 

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