The National Governors Association (NGA) will collaborate with North Dakota and five other states on strategies for equitably meeting the social-emotional needs of students and families during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NGA Center for Best Practices announced today that it has selected the six states – Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, North Dakota, Oregon and Wisconsin – for technical assistance from its staff and national and state partners, as well as grant support to develop and carry out action plans focused on one or more specific state policy priorities related to students’ comprehensive development during and beyond COVID-19.
In addition, governors’ offices will engage with and learn from peers and national and state experts to advance their policy priorities.
North Dakota’s project is centered on tying together social-emotional needs and workforce readiness, including through the North Dakota Education to Workforce Pathways through SEL Coalition, as well as building capacity for the state to expand and implement North Dakota SEL Network efforts.
“The stress of the pandemic on students and their families has highlighted the importance of integrating social-emotional learning within our schools and beyond. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with NGA to expand the SEL Network that is dedicated to supporting students and districts by providing workforce readiness skills and real-world experiences to prepare students for the challenges of today and the opportunities of tomorrow,” Gov. Doug Burgum said. “Thanks to the hard work of so many North Dakotans, a majority of our students have been receiving in-person instruction since the start of the school year. As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, building strong partnerships between the home, school and community will be critical to addressing the whole child.”
The initiative comes as students and their families confront fear, anxiety, trauma, isolation and stress during COVID-19, as well as growing public concern about economic instability and persistent racial inequities. Governors have increasingly emphasized and prioritized the importance of addressing the holistic needs of students as schools reopen.
The rapid shift to remote learning brought on by widespread school closures in the spring of 2020 amplified the importance of creating positive and equitable learning environments; building and sustaining strong relationships and engagement among students, their peers and teachers; and meeting the unique needs of all students, including students with disabilities, English learners and those experiencing homelessness.
At the same time, the pandemic has also highlighted the need for comprehensive whole child approaches to education grounded in the science of learning and development, including support strategies such as community schools, wraparound services and parent, family, student and community engagement.
The NGA’s work with the six states will run through March 2022. The NGA is a bipartisan organization representing governors from all 50 states and five U.S. territories.