US Education Policy

How Schools Ensure Social Connections During Physical Isolation

April 20, 2020  • Education and Society Program

Every community in America has turned to schools to sustain relationships and connectedness during the COVID-19 crisis. This webinar explored the practical realities and research foundations of how distance learning offers both opportunities, and imperatives, to re-establish relationships during school closure—and learn some of the new ways that students, parents, and educators are connecting to advance the work of schools. Now as much as ever, students need schools to attend to both social-emotional and academic development in unison. After a brief overview of foundational research on the role of relationships in learning and thriving, the webinar highlighted innovations and early learning from leaders in schools and systems across the country.


  • David Adams, Director of Social-Emotional Learning, The Urban Assembly
  • Gene Pinkard, Director, Practice & Leadership, Education & Society Program, The Aspen Institute
  • Amanda Rodriguez, Principal, Cleveland Metropolitan School District
  • Patti Salzmann, Chief Academic Officer, San Antonio Independent School District
  • Natalie Walrond, Director, Center to Improve Social and Emotional Learning and School Safety and Director of Cross-Sector Initiatives, WestEd