Since March 2020, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on students’ lives and learning. Congress has responded by showering schools with money — $193 billion, so far — to help students catch up academically, cope with mental health struggles and re-engage with school.
In deciding what to prioritize, social-emotional activities were an obvious choice, according to Lodi Unified. Students would never be able to focus on classwork until they felt relaxed, comfortable and connected to school again.
The impact of these additions has been immediate and “phenomenal,” said White, the principal at Elkhorn. Students’ behavior and social skills have dramatically improved, she said, and most students who lagged academically during distance learning have caught up. “Without these programs, students’ grades would not be where they are. More students would be tuned out. They wouldn’t have the work ethic,” White said. “The effects of (these programs) have been huge. … You can see the happiness.”