BRICK TOWNSHIP — Superintendent Thomas Farrell Tuesday defended plans by the Brick Township School District for surveying students and parents as part of the Social and Emotional Learning [SEL] program to gauge mental health and well-being.
Addressing the public at a meeting of the Brick board of education, Mr. Farrell said that SEL surveys are intended to guide the district in maintaining a sense of belonging and “connectedness” for students following the pressures that the pandemic and months of remote learning put on them, as well as their parents, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Referring to the negative impact of such pressures, the superintendent said, “We have to recognize it, analyze it and find out how systemic it is.”
As part of the SEL program, the Brick school district plans to survey students from grades six to 12, as well as parents once at the halfway point of the school year to gather a baseline of information and again at the end of school year in June.
The Brick school district has also entered a contract to use Panorama, an electronic survey platform and professional development provider for the SEL program. Critics of the contract say the superintendent and school board have not adequately disclosed the details.
Participation in the surveys will be voluntary, Mr. Farrell said, and the school board will maintain oversight over the process, including choosing the questions that will be included.
“SEL is a huge factor when it comes to connecting students, that’s why this year we made it a district goal,” he said.
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