Wednesday’s Warrior: Bristol school focusing on students’ social-emotional health to make sure kids feel strong and ready this upcoming school year

Wednesday's Warrior

BRISTOL, Conn. (WTNH) – Bristol Public Schools are getting ready to welcome students back. One school, in particular, is making sure kids feel strong and ready for the upcoming school year.

“We are just so excited to have our kids back in the building,” said Principal Emily Gomes.

Ivy Drive School in Bristol is ready to welcome back students. The pandemic has changed education as we know it. Principal Emily Gomes says Ivy Drive is strongly focusing on mental health.

“One of the things that we recognize is the social and emotional impact that COVID-19 and the pandemic has had on our students, and so we wanted to prepare for that. They have 30 minutes a day that is dedicated to social and emotional learning,” Gomes said.

First thing every morning, teachers read a book from the social-emotional learning library, which is full of, “texts that teach about how to cope with anxiety, to cope with their worries, and how to handle when they feel overwhelmed or they are up against a challenge and they need to persevere,” Gomes explained.

All while featuring characters students can see themselves in by showcasing different races, ethnicities, and genders.

Students head back to school in Bristol on Monday, August 30. When they return, there are safety reminders around the building. While inside, students have to wear their masks, but there’s a classroom available to them outside where they can take them off and get a break.

“The kids can come out, they can have mask-free time,” Lindsey Rivers said.

Lindsey Rivers, the Public Works Analyst for Bristol, is one of the minds behind the design. She says the space can be used for anything.

“They can come out here and read books, they can do math class,” Rivers said. “We talked about the social-emotional aspect with COVID going on. When they are out in the garden, they’re not thinking about their problems at home or the problems in school.”

“We know that they don’t learn best if their social-emotional needs aren’t being met,” Gomes said.

Both of those programs have actually been around for a few years now, but given the pandemic, they’re really being put to good use and are more important than ever before.

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