Posted on April 8, 2021
HARTFORD– State Rep. Irene Haines (R-34) last week supported two pieces of legislation in the legislature’s Education Committee aimed at establishing clear minimum guidelines and standards for remote learning to ensure quality education and establishing social-emotional learning to adequately provide mental health support for all Connecticut students.
An Act Concerning Virtual Learning (SB 977), would require the state Department of Education to create uniform standards for online learning by July, as well as conduct an audit of the remote learning programs being used by school districts across the state and report their findings, committee leaders said. The department would also determine what should and should not be considered an excused absence from online classes and approve the virtual learning platforms being used by districts.
“Children all over the state are not where they need to be in their education due to the confusion surrounding remote learning,” said Rep. Haines. “Clearly outlining requirements will help alleviate some of that and give teachers and parents a better sense of how to get their kids back on track.”
The social-emotional learning proposal, An Act Concerning Social and Emotional Learning (HB 6557), would work to implement the recommendations of the Social Emotional Learning and School Climate Advisory Collaborative and to integrate the principles of social-emotional learning and restorative practices into the provision of public education in Connecticut while adequately addressing the need for mental health counselors in our schools.
Rep. Haines said, “Remote learning can be very lonely, and we have seen the impacts that a lack of socialization can have on students through this pandemic. Not only are they struggling with these new feelings, they do not always have the resources to address them. This is a great first step in helping our students cope and move forward.”
According to testimony from the Connecticut School Counselor Association, today fewer than 25% of Connecticut’s elementary school children have access to school counselors and comprehensive school counseling programming; that means that 75% of students are not receiving the attention, care, and proactive interventions of a school counselor and a comprehensive school counseling program.
Additionally, Connecticut ranks 37th in the nation for average school counselor to student ratios. Due to these high caseloads (an average of 1:457), students at the middle school and high school levels also do not always have access to their school counselor.
Both pieces of legislation were overwhelming approved in the Education committee and now move forward for further General Assembly debate.