A Collaboration between the Ohio Department of Education and the Center for Urban Education
School Climate Improvement Post-Pandemic
The past few years have been particularly challenging for Ohio's K-12 schools. COVID-19 drove districts to close their buildings, shift to remote learning, re-open, and slowly work to get back to "normal." Making students feel safe and supported, always a priority for educators, has taken on greater weight as we collectively recover from the pandemic. The challenges have been even more pronounced for groups already marginalized. In addition to and alongside the pandemic, numerous episodes of violence against African Americans, rising anti-Asian violence, and other issues of racism and inequality have pervaded the public consciousness. Many schools and districts are rising to the moment, ready to become better stewards of equity, inclusions, and justice.
Goals For Improvement
We offer ten research-based school climate improvement strategies to help schools and districts build safe and supportive communities that support the whole child amidst pandemic recovery. The goal is to thrive and be better than we were before by:
- Promoting a positive, equitable school climate where all students feel safe, supported, and well.
- Strengthening schools and districts as anti-racist, justice-promoting institutions where all students can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.
The remainder of this report is organized around a series of ten research-based strategies that schools and districts can utilize during the 2020-2021 academic year and beyond. The ten strategies are below. A PDF version of this guide can be accessed here.
The strategies are listed in no particular order. Though not a “strategy” per se, there is ample evidence that simply reestablishing the routines of school following a traumatic event can be immensely helpful for young people. The strategies below assume that schools and districts will reestablish that routine with the understanding that there may be variation in the proportion of it that is in-person.
- Strategy #1. State a School Vision and Mission that Includes Values of Community and Racial Justice
- Strategy #2. Use Data to Provide Support for Students, Teachers, and Families
- Strategy #3. Integrate Multi-Tiered Systems of Support
- Strategy #4. Cultivate Positive Relationships Among Students and School Staff
- Strategy #5. Promote Social and Emotional Learning
- Strategy #6. Foster a Positive School Racial Climate
- Strategy #7. Engage Students in Social Action to Address Problems
- Strategy #8. Address Experiences and Emotions Tied to the Pandemic and to Equity and Inclusion
- Strategy #9. Incorporate Trauma-Informed Practices and Staff Professional Development
- Strategy #10. Provide Behavioral Health Support and Interventions