Thank you for your interest in our COVID-19 response materials.  The following resources were developed, adapted, and collected to provide supports to our partner district and school leaders in applying an inquiry approach while navigating through and beyond the crisis period.  While these tools and resources were developed for the LEAD Project, we are providing them to other district and school leaders that may find them useful in their own response to this unprecedented time.

COVID-19 response resources have or will be developed to begin an inquiry cycle that includes the following phases:

Phase 1 – Re-Orienting to the Crisis Period – focused on what you can do right now to address your most pressing needs and set your school up for effective long-term planning

Phase 2 – New Learning Phase – immediately following the school closure period, exploring information and data to understand the extent of learning gain or loss that may have occurred

Phase 3 – Fall Re-Entry Plan – developing an action plan and establishing goals that include the identification of responsive strategies and practices to address the impact of the school closure period

Phase 4 – Enacting Strategies Aimed at Addressing Impact – implementing action plans, monitoring progress toward process and outcome goals, and determining the need for mid-course correction

Phase 1

Connection to the Project:  Phase 1 of the approach is the “speculation” stage. The Cycles of Inquiry approach encourages leaders and their teams to resist the temptation to identify solutions before fully understanding the extent of the challenge.  But that does not mean that nothing can be done now. During this phase teams strives to understand the situation/challenge while speculating about what they need to know and do in order to select effective strategies to address the impact.  Teams will also identify additional information and data that are needed to inform our understanding of the challenge and the selection of strategies to address it.

Framing of Phase 1: The Phase 1 webinar is framed by an understanding of neuro-typical brain responses during periods of prolonged stress.  This is based on an extensive body of research and is included to help leaders recognize and react to stress responses in their interactions.  We understand that leaders and their staff have reacted to the crisis in a wide variety of ways and that the context within which they live and work is different.  Framing the Phase 1 content around neuroscience was merely intended to acknowledge that fear and anxiety are common brain responses during times of prolonged uncertainty.  We are not suggesting that during this time leaders are operating in a flight, fight, or freeze state. However, it is likely that the families, staff, or student they come in contact with may be in a state of fear or heightened anxiety. In fact, an increasing number may be facing job, healthcare, housing, or food insecurity for the first time in their lives.  Therefore, we encourage leaders to attend to the social emotional needs of those with whom they interact. Communication will be most effective when it is delivered in a clear and concise manner, because research indicates that adults have a reduced capacity to process information during prolonged periods of heightened stress.

Phase 1 Resources:

Recorded Webinar – the 40-minute video outlines a four-step process for leaders to re-orient their work in light of the crisis.  It is premised on the essential question – If we can only do a few things right in the next few days, weeks, and month, what should it be?

Toolkit with 4 Worksheets – the excel file includes templates for capturing the work completed in each of the four-steps of the Re-Orientation Process

Teacher Data Capture Guidance – directions for the introduction of the corresponding template designed to help teachers capture important data and information needed for future planning.

Teacher Data Capture Template – for use by teachers to capture important information about what they are experiencing during the remote learning period and to begin to think about the implications of the remote learning period on the vertical alignment of the curriculum.

COVID-19 Stress, Distress & Trauma Series 

The videos in this series with Dr. Bruce Perry are provided to view and share.  We have closed captioned each video. To change captions from English to another language, select “settings” (cog at bottom right), select “Subtitles/CC” then select “Auto-translate” and finally select the language of your choice.

NN COVID Series: 1 – Patterns of Stress Determine Risk & Resilience

This brief (15 min) video with Dr. Bruce Perry discusses how the pattern of stress can determine risk or resilience.  The importance of structure, predictability and moderation of daily stress is highlighted. The malleability of the capacity to demonstrate resilience is discussed.

NN COVID Series: 2 – Understanding State-dependent Functioning

This brief (22 min) video with Dr. Bruce Perry reviews how stress and distress change the way we think, feel and behave.  The relevance for the current pandemic is discussed.

NN COVID Series: 3 – Emotional Contagion

In this brief (20 min) video, Dr. Bruce Perry discusses ’emotional contagion’ and talks about the power of calm.  The concept of power differential is discussed in context of human interactions and discusses the importance of calm, regulated leadership in times of stress and distress.

NN COVID Series: 4 – Sequence of Engagement

This is a brief (20 min) video describing the sequential processing of experience in the brain.  The Regulate-Relate-Reason heuristic is explained. This simple but powerful concept can help minimize miscommunication and behavioral challenges (especially with dysregulated adults and children).

NN COVID Series: 5 – Understanding Regulation

This brief (23 min) video reviews some of the basics of ‘regulation’ and helps viewers understand why patterned, repetitive somatosensory activity is regulating.  The primary regulatory role of dissociation is also discussed.  Very basic neuroscience about stress and regulation can help viewers understand the power of intentional regulatory practices – especially in the current COVID-19 pandemic.

NN COVID Series: 6 – Dosing & Spacing

This brief (25 min) video discusses elaborates on the importance of the “pattern” of stress and stress activation with a focus on the concept of ‘dosing.’  What is considered a “moderate” dose of stress – why is this important in building resilience?  And what is the power of the moment?  This video presents some important background for understanding the importance of small but powerful relational moments.

NN COVID Series: 7 – Self-care & Organizational Care

This brief (25 min) video highlights the reasons self-care and organizational care are needed for individuals and organizations that work in high stress settings, or with individuals with trauma histories. Examples of integration of regulatory strategies into work-flow are provided.

NN COVID Series: 8 – Decision Fatigue

This brief (21 min) video discusses the importance of regulation during decision-making. Decision fatigue and analysis paralysis can impede the development of creative solutions during times of crisis. A few simple guidelines can improve decision-making and lead to more effective practice, programs and policy – especially when created during times of duress, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Phase 2

Connection to the Project:  Phase II of the Cycles of Inquiry approach is the “new learning” stage. This phase occurs after the initial remote learning period has ended. During this phase the Principal and Instructional Leadership Team synthesize disparate data sources to determine what teaching and learning actually occurred during the emergency shift to remote learning.  Questions the team might pursue include: What instruction was planned?  What instruction was delivered? What implications are there for the “receiving teacher” in the next grade or course? Teams will use a data review protocol to ensure a trusting and non-judgmental environment that provides insight into implications for re-entry planning.

Framing of Phase II: The Phase II webinar revisits the neuro-typical brain responses during periods of prolonged stress.  Framing content around neuroscience was merely intended to acknowledge that fear and anxiety are common brain responses to stress and while all adults feel stress during prolonged periods of uncertainty, not everyone responds to stress in the same way.  For that reason, Phase II materials include a table of adult skills that correspond to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) framework of social emotional leadership competencies.  The greater the skill level of an adult, the greater capacity they have to be resilient during a prolonged crisis.  Just as it is the role of the principal to build the capacity of their faculty to be strong teachers, so too is it their responsibility to develop the social emotional leadership skills of teachers to overcome this crisis and ensure students continue to grow and learn.

Phase II Tools and Resources:

Recorded Webinar – The video outlines the re-opening plan for the State of Illinois and its implications for schools, a simple process for decision making, and a process for engaging ILTs in reviewing new data and information in order to reflect and understand what transpired during the emergency remote learning period.

 CASEL Social Emotional Leadership Competencies and Skills Table – The SEL Table provided in the Phase II materials can assist principals in understanding adult social emotional needs from a skill-based perspective.

Excel Toolkit for Debrief Meeting – The excel file includes templates for capturing data from the debrief discussion with the ILT, a list of prompt questions to consider during the debrief, and data review summary template for teachers to use during their file review. The templates are designed to help teachers capture important themes emerging from the data and information and the implications for future planning.

Survey Focus Area Summary Table and Survey Tools The included survey tools focus on three specific stakeholder groups: Teachers, Parents/Guardians, and Students.  The tools explore their perceptions and experiences during the initial remote learning period.

Data File Review Note-Catcher Guidance for Teachers ILT Debrief Guidance Document for Principals These two templates are designed to assist the principal and ILT members in capturing and organizing emerging findings from a variety of data sources.  The first template is for teachers to capture information from their file review and is organized to guide their presentation of the data.  The second template is designed to capture information in one place from each of the data file presentations that take place during the ILT Debrief Meeting.

School Reform Initiative’s Atlas Protocol for Exploring Data – This tool provides a structured protocol for reviewing data and information in a systematic and non-judgmental manner.

NWEA Collaborative Brief on Impact of COVID-19 – This document includes a brief quantitative analysis projecting the expected learning loss that can be expected when students return in the fall.  This information may be useful in helping teachers understand the need to attend to gaps in vertical curriculum alignment.

Phase 3

Connection to the Project: Phase 3 of the approach is the Fall Re-Entry: Planning for Strategy Enactment and Goal Setting.  The Cycles of Inquiry approach asks principals and Instructional Leadership Teams to question:  Are the previously adopted practices the most “responsive” given the current state?   What data might we use to our understanding of the extent of “learning loss” that may have occurred during the emergency remote learning period?  How will we incorporate missed learning in a logical and coherent fashion within the projected scope and sequence for the subsequent grade or course?  How might we re-envision schooling in a way that effectively addresses student academic, social and emotional needs?  How will the return-to-school plan attend to issues of equity and incorporate social emotional learning practices in ways that benefit students AND adults? What communications strategies will enable us to maintain and extend connection and connectedness with key stakeholder groups?  How might we continue to innovate in ways that maximize NEW innovative practices and enhanced engagement strategies even after a “return-to-conventional” in-person instruction may be possible?

Framing of Phase 3: The Phase III webinar begins with a discussion of how effective school leaders manage decisions beyond their control (but within their circle of concern) differently from those school-level issues that are within their control (i.e. within their circle of influence). “Parking” and tracking tools for influencing and communicating decisions that are made at the district level that impact re-entry are provided. In order to maintain a focus on instructional quality, a multi-step process for vertical standards articulation is offered along with a process for identifying and addressing important standards/skills that may have been skipped or insufficiently covered during the emergency school closure period.  Social emotional protocols that advance adult awareness of sound SEL practice that can also be adapted for use with students to reorient to a climate for learning are introduced. And a comprehensive and inclusive six-step communications strategy that maintains connection and connectedness with key stakeholder groups is discussed.

Webinar Navigation:Corresponding tools for each topic covered in the Phase 3 webinar may be found under the Tools and Resources heading located below the link to the recorded webinar.

00:00     Introduction to the Phase III Webinar – Purpose, Focus, and Presenters

05:45      External/Internal Planning Tools/Protocols

41:26       Identifying and Addressing Learning Gaps in Vertical Alignment

1:11:58     Social/Emotional Learning Tools/Protocols

1:22:56    Communication Planning Tools/Resources

Further, the corresponding tools for each topic can be found under, under the webinar tab.

Phase 4

Connection to the Project: 

Phase 4 in the COVID-19 Tool-Kit series addresses Re-Entry Plan Implementation, Goal Setting and Monitoring for Goal Attainment.  Applying a Cycles of Inquiry approach enables Principals and their  Instructional Leadership Teams (ILT) to engage in school-wide continuous school improvement work regardless of the return-to-school learning model.

Framing of Phase 4

The opening section illustrates the ways in which the Fall Return-to-School must be fundamentally different from the original emergency school closure period as we transition from “disruption” to “recovery.” It includes research-based strategies for responding to a dramatically altered and continuously shifting learning environment that include:

  • Threat vs. Opportunity Framing;
  • Creating Conditions that Foster Teacher Self-Efficacy;
  • Organizing Teams to maximize effort and impact;
  • Innovating Your Way to Achieving Your Goals and;
  • Focusing on Deepening Trusting Relationships by Attending to Equity, SEL And Reciprocal Communication.

In subsequent sections, the role of the ILT is defined in the areas of goal setting, re-establishing opportunities for professional learning, and monitoring progress through instructional data collection practices.  A commitment to educator self-care and recognition, turning complaints into commitments, and appreciating the role of the teacher as a “guest” in family homes during virtual learning helps us to re-evaluate how we define student engagement and set expectations for learning.

Participants are reminded that the primary function of public schools is to promote learning and this is accomplished through effective teaching; therefore teacher supervision (largely through the lens of teacher development) should remain a priority, complicated though it may be.  Finally, communication whether written, verbal, or conveyed by visual models is an important way of signaling the school’s return to a focus on learning.

Webinar Navigation:

Additional Resources include some original source material referenced throughout the webinar and related documents that may be used to explore particular topics in greater depth.  A Teacher Evaluation folder contains sample data collection tools and official guidance from ISBE.

00:00    Introduction to the Phase III Webinar – Purpose, Focus, and Presenters

05:40     Video:  How kids are coping with pandemic anxiety

09:56     Research-Based Leadership Strategies for Establishing Conditions for Effective Teaching and Learning

41:06      Social/Emotional Learning Tools/Protocols

1:00:50  Universal Goals to Guide the Return-to-School

1:22:43  Defining the Difference between Building Leadership Teams and Instructional Leadership Teams, and

Data Collection Planning for the three primary Return-to-School Learning Models

1:36:11   Communicating in Ways that Get Schools Beyond “React” And “Respond.”

Learning What it Takes: Curriculum Instruction, Assessment and Engagement

2:10:33  Closing Thoughts: What if . . .

Additional Resources

Attached are additional tools for crisis support and intervention, managing anxiety, mindfulness and movement, ways to share art and stories, support for children and teens, and resources in Spanish. We hope they are useful, and we will continue to look for ways to support one another during this challenging time.

Crisis Text Line
Text SHARE to 741741 to reach a crisis counselor24/7, for free, confidential support.
Crisis Text Line counselors are available to connect about anxiety related to the novel coronavirus, isolation, students’ concerns about school, financial stress, and other concerns.

Managing Anxiety and Stress Related to the Coronavirus 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Tips on stress and coping, with specialized advice for parents, responders, and people who have been released from quarantine.

Avoiding Misinformation on COVID-19
News Literacy Project
How to spot—and avoid spreading—misinformation, and identify reliable sources of information.

Meditations for Focus, Stress, Sleep—and Even Handwashing
The Headspace app is offering a free set of meditation, sleep, and movement exercises, “Weathering the Storm,” specific to this time; a free suite of tools and guided meditations for business and employees, and free Headspace Plus accounts for providers who work in public health settings.

Dance Classes At Home
Join ODC’s teachers and community online while the physical studio doors are closed. Sign up for a live-streamed class or follow along with a Fusion Light class from Rhythm & Motion.

Exercising during a Pandemic
The Atlantic
Expert advice on getting exercise at home or while maintaining social distancing.

A Daily Story to Lift Your Spirits
StoryCorps is putting some of the most heartwarming stories from their collection in a daily newsletter. Sign up for reminders of heart, humanity, and generosity from everyday people.

Virtual Museum Visits
Google Arts & Culture
Key pieces from the collections of 2,500 museums worldwide, including special online exhibits.

For many excellent resources for supporting school-age children while their schools are closed, please see Resources for Remote Learning.

Talking to Kids about the Coronavirus
Child Mind Institute
Guidance for parents of young and school-age children on talking to them about coronavirus.

Teens Facing a New Normal
Strategies for teens to protect their mental health while facing a (temporary) new normal.

Maneje la Ansiedad y el Estrés
Centros para el control y la prevención de enfermedades (CDC)
Consejos sobre estrés y afrontamiento, con consejos especializados para padres, personal de auxilio y personas que han sido liberadas de la cuarentena.

Cómo Hablar con los Niños sobre el Coronavirus
Child Mind Institute
Guía para padres de niños pequeños y en edad escolar sobre cómo hablarles sobre el coronavirus.

And if you’re looking for a way to serve others—during this difficult time, and beyond it—consider training as a crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line. The training can be done from home, and teaches the skills of reflective listening, collaborative problem solving, and crisis management.

  • Webinars: Each week, we’re offering a free webinar focused on specific aspects of schooling in the time of COVID-19, from SEL for educators and students, to teaching online, to leading in uncertain times.
  • Community: The chat box feature in our webinars show that what educators crave most right now is connection to other educators. Please join today to share your questions and wisdom.
  • Blog posts: Like the webinar series, the blog posts explore specific aspects of virtual collaboration, digital teaching, and coaching from afar.

Free ASCD Resources to Support Social-Emotional Learning

Students need to develop strong social-emotional skills to thrive in school, career, and life. Integrating a focus on social-emotional learning into your classroom or school also will help you to better serve young people who have experienced trauma.

COVID-19 Resources

With tens of millions of children out of school around the country, we are facing an unprecedented moment in American education. Like many of our partners, clients, and friends in the sector, we’re doing our best to flatten the curve. As an organization with flexible policies but frequent on-site work, Bellwether has stopped all travel, encouraged all employees to work from home, and updated leave policies to reflect emergent personal and family needs. Like all of you, we’re continuing to monitor the situation closely and are putting personal safety first.

But as a mission-driven nonprofit especially concerned with the most frequently marginalized students in American life, we’re also continuing our commitment to serving kids, schools, and communities. In the immediate wake of the closings, we made our excess capacity available to school districts and charter school networks on a pro bono basis to help them meet this challenge.

We are also maintaining the list of resources below for schools, families, and students. We’ll continue to update this page, so feel free to email us at with anything else you think we should include.