New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray, and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza announced “Bridge to School,” a Citywide initiative for the 2020-21 school year focused on the social and emotional well-being of students and adults in order to create a safe, supportive learning environment that confronts the trauma caused by the COVID-19 crisis. As a result, schools will be equipped to integrate trauma-informed practices into school reopening, and build off of last year’s major expansion of mental health supports in schools.

At the height of the pandemic, the Department of Education (DOE) trained approximately 13,000 people throughout the spring and summer in a Trauma 101 series focused on grief and loss, bereavement and self-care in a crisis. This included Crisis Team members, who respond to schools that experience a loss and provide mental health supports, school leaders and school support staff. These practices were put into immediate use across the system during remote learning and supported students, families, and staff members who experienced losses this spring in coming together to begin healing.

To enhance this key priority, the Fund for Public Schools has secured $1.9 million in philanthropic funding from the Robin Hood, Gray, and Tiger foundations. These grants will help to equip school-based staff citywide with trauma-informed training, high quality resources, and ongoing support - all critical to effectively respond to students' social emotional needs in this challenging time. Already, 1,600 school leaders have completed this training, giving them skills to provide foundational classroom and school wide support and the ability to recognize when acute trauma requires a referral for more targeted support.

Training will be made available to teachers at all schools. Available sessions include training on:

  • Building capacity of school staff and school leaders to recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma and its impact on young people
  • Learning effective classroom and school-wide trauma informed care practices that align to existing social-emotional and mental health support systems used in the NYCDOE

Beyond training, and direct classroom support, the Department of Education is releasing the Bridge to School Resource Guide - grade-appropriate tools, like activities and lesson plans for both remote and in-person learning, that help students build coping skills, process grief, re-connect, and allow students to orient themselves to blended-learning or online classroom during first the few weeks of school.