School board discusses social, emotional learning, emergency waiver for seniors

Data indicates academic, emotional, behavioral risks amongst students decreased after resuming in-person learning



Superintendent Bob Maxwell said school counselors and administrators are working with eligible students who can benefit from the waiver program weekly.

MELINA ERNST, Evergreen reporter

Pullman Public Schools board members unanimously adopted a policy to integrate and support social and emotional learning in schools during a meeting Wednesday.

Superintendent Bob Maxwell said Policy 3112 Social Emotional Climate, introduced by the Washington State School Directors’ Association in February 2021, is not essential but encouraged. He said he believed the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated WSSDA’s development of the policy. 

“It provides a nice foundation to the work that we are currently doing in the area of social-emotional learning,” Maxwell said. 

Roberta Kramer, assistant superintendent of Pullman Public Schools, presented the social-emotional learning report at the meeting. 

This school year, she said the Pullman Public Schools implemented and administered the Social, Academic, Behavior Risk Screener to K-12 students. K-1 teachers are required to complete the screener, whereas students between second and 12th grade can self-report.

So far, Pullman Public Schools completed the screener twice this year with plans to conduct another one before the school year ends. Kramer said the goal is to increase participation amongst sixth and 12th graders. 

“[Participation] was very limited. A lot of it started when kids were [learning] at a distance,” she said. “We just know that that’s an area we need to focus on for next year.”

Kramer said data between the first and second screening administrations indicated reduced risk when students returned to in-person learning.

Kramer said the work school counselors have done to mitigate barriers for students to return to school, participate in school and have access to basic needs such as food and clothing have “been incredible.” 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, she said Pullman Public Schools have engaged in outreach to include conducting home visits and having principals connect with students and their families. 

Board members also approved a resolution that permits the implementation of an emergency waiver program to waive high school graduation credits for students in the 2020 and 2021 graduating classes. The purpose of the waiver is to ensure the COVID-19 pandemic does not negatively impact or hinder students’ ability to graduate. 

Maxwell said school counselors and administrators are working with eligible students who can benefit from the waiver program weekly.  

“The number [of eligible students] decreases each week, which is a good thing,” he said. “They’re making a lot of progress.”