At a recent roundtable for BOE chairs in CT, one of the top items of concern raised is the increasing amount of students in our schools with social/emotional needs. It appears that this trend is not unique to our area or state, but is nationwide. Unfortunately, it also spans all levels of school, including elementary students. In Ridgefield, we are seeing increased levels of emotional reactivity at an early age.

Regardless of the societal reasons, schools must address this reality for students. Studies repeatedly show that students learn better when they feel safe, physically and emotionally. Ridgefield Public Schools uses a number of strategies, both proactive and in time.

RPS middle and elementary schools engage in social/emotional learning (SEL) programs such as RULER to help students develop social/emotional skills. Additionally, school psychologists at all levels serve specific student need as well as provide proactive support to students experiencing social/emotional challenges.

At the middle and high schools, school counselors provide social/emotional services to general and special education students. In response to student crises at the high school, the budget for the 2020-21 school year includes an additional social worker to focus on addressing emotional barriers that keep students from accessing their academic environments and coursework. Occasionally, the district is not able to meet the emotional needs of a student resulting in an outplacement.

Margaret Stamatis