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Critical social and emotional learning during COVID-19: Building a local resource

September 25, 2020

multicolored heart for Durham Public SchoolsA new school year has just started in the United States. But, because of COVID-19, this year will be very different. In many communities, routines have been upended, school buildings are still shuttered after classes moved online in the spring, and students remain physically distant from their teachers and friends. This upheaval can lead to stress for both children and adults. And, Black, Latinx and low-income families have been especially hard hit by illness, death and income instability from the coronavirus. To address these challenges, schools are providing students, teachers and families with social and emotional learning (SEL) resources.

FHI 360 responded in the community where our headquarters is located. We partnered with Durham Public Schools in Durham, North Carolina, to plan, design and build an online SEL hub called Embrace. This hub provides students, teachers and caregivers with videos, activities, games and other materials for the community. In the announcement for the launch of Embrace, Durham Public Schools Superintendent Pascal Mubenga said, “When our students and staff cannot be together in the same school buildings, we must work even harder to support their mental and emotional health.”

Embrace covers subjects ranging from mindfulness to anti-racism, from finding one’s core purpose to overcoming trauma. According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, “SEL is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”

Embrace is in its early stages, with additional resources and Spanish-language translations on the way. Durham Public Schools staff will continue to maintain the site and add content to meet the ongoing needs of their community.

FHI 360 can create similar resources for other school districts. Please contact us for more information.

Photo credit: Durham Public Schools