A message from the
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education

August 2020

August 2020 Contents: 

  1. Creating Positive Learning Environments
  2. Family Engagement Affinity Group Virtual Listening Sessions
  3. Updated SEL Website
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) is continuing to develop and share this newsletter during the COVID-19 pandemic, reopening planning, and beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. As schools, districts, teachers, students, and families continue to plan for the school year, we hope that these resources are helpful and welcome any feedback. 

If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, please email the Office of Student and Family Support at
Topic 2 Heading Heart logo  Creating Positive Learning Environments
Recommendations and Resources to Support the Social Emotional Well-being of Students, Staff, and Families (Summer 2020): The Department is providing this resource to help districts and schools support the social emotional well-being of students, staff, and families. This document is intended to complement the reopening guidance. It includes a series of recommendations and sample resources to support planning and implementation, and builds upon the related resource document offered this Spring

If interested, please complete this survey by August 11, 2020 to let us know of associated topics and supports that would be most helpful to you as you prepare for school reopening this fall. The data collected in this survey will help inform which learning opportunities the Department will prioritize offering for schools and districts over the coming weeks and months
Topic 2 Heading Heart logo  Family Engagement Affinity Group Virtual Listening Sessions
In June 2020, the Massachusetts State Family Engagement Coalition released the cross-agency Prenatal through Young Adulthood Family Engagement Framework.  

As part of next steps, in response to requests made at the regional meetings and more, and to add to the information gleaned through a series of virtual listening sessions in July 2020, we are hosting Affinity group virtual listening sessions over the next few weeks to share the framework, to discuss what resources and supports are needed to implement the framework, and to reflect on the intersection of family engagement with current contexts of COVID-19 and racial equity. These listening sessions will provide families, practitioners, community organizations and other community members an opportunity to share current experiences related to COVID-19 and to racial equity, and provide suggestions for the family engagement state coalition to consider incorporating into the initial implementation plan development.

The listening sessions are each one hour in length, and will be held throughout August. For more details, please see the online registration form.
Topic 3 Heading Heart logo  Updated SEL Website
The Department's SEL website has been updated. You can find the following information on the site: 
  • SEL Definitions and Approaches
  • Five Core Competencies of SEL, with examples noted
  • SEL & Equity
  • Four Approaches to SEL Instruction
  • Developing SEL Competencies — a tiered approach
  • National Commission on Social, Emotional, & Academic Development
  • CASEL's Collaborating States Initiative
  • Examples of Department Guidance Documents, Resources, and PD
Copyright © 2020 Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, All rights reserved.

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