Checklist: 5 starter plays for enhancing
mental health and well-being
Print this page to help
track your progress
toward completing the
5 starter steps.
1. Community-
building activities
! Conduct daily morning
! Find time for staff, student,
and family check-ins.
! Identify opportunities
for peer learning
(for example,
lessons designed
to provide ways for
students to learn
and work together).
2. Trauma-informed
! Provide staff and
teachers with
professional learning
! Review and revise school
policies and procedures
to be more trauma-
informed and adapted
to a virtual context.
! Create opportunities
for staff to observe
each other and
provide feedback.
3. Open discussions
on environmental
! Build in time to practice
new routines (for example,
teaching handwashing,
no-touch practices, and
virtual high-fives).
! Build in time during the
day to allow students
to express and process
! Engage in curricular
opportunities that promote
equity, diversity, and
4. Social-emotional
skill building
! Build in time during the
day for connecting and
building relationships.
! Introduce coping strategies
that students can apply to
those experiences.
! Integrate practices that
promote social-emotional
skills (for example,
“mindful minutes” in
between activities).
! Provide a calming space
or set of strategies for
students to de-stress.
! Work with parents and
families to support social
and emotional learning in
the home.
5. Mental health
support services
! Create a process to identify
students who are struggling
with mental health.
! Ensure all staff understand how
to refer students for additional
resources and support.
! Create easy pathways for
accessing mental health
resources (such as regular
classroom visits by mental
health staff or passes
to access counseling).
! Create a process for families
and school staff to collaborate
on and share student support
plans and resources.
These plays are useful in both in-person and virtual learning environments.
Checklist: 5 starter plays for enhancing
your COVID-19 prevention strategy
Print this page to help track your
progress toward completing the
5 starter steps.
2. Take advantage of
your staff’s expertise
in health and wellness
! Plan and implement
COVID-19 prevention
strategies in partnership
with school staff, such as
nurses and other
specialized instructional
support personnel (SISP)
health and physical
education teachers, and
custodial staff.
! Develop plans for
supporting populations at
high risk for COVID-19.
! Work with facility and
maintenance staff to make
sure proper air ventilation,
filtration, and
cleaning and
disinfecting procedures
are in place.
3. Engage students’
families to help develop
and implement your
prevention strategy
! Seek family input in your
school’s operating plans
and conduct surveys and
virtual town halls to collect
ongoing feedback.
! Inform families about when
to send their children to
school, safety protocols,
and who to contact with
questions or concerns.
! Communicate what’s
required for students to
return to school, like well-
child visits, immunizations,
screenings, and testing.
! Share resources to help
families speak with their
children about COVID-19
and inform them about
available school programs
and services.
1. Provide staff and
teachers with training
! Train staff and teachers on
policies and procedures and
how to discuss them
students and families.
! Educate yourself, and then your
staff, about COVID-19
transmission, symptoms, and
effects on local communities.
! Speak with staff and teachers
about employee sanitation and
train them on
how to establish
physical space in classrooms
and hallways.
! Use data on attendance, student
engagement, student health
records, and public health data
to identify student support
! Establish a process for raising
questions and sharing feedback
about COVID-19 policy
4. Work with community
partners and agencies to
develop and implement
your prevention strategy
! Designate a point of contact
on school staff to be a liaison
with local public health
agencies and ensure up-to-
date COVID-19 information
is available to share.
! Work with local public
health agencies, health
care providers, and
organizations to provide
resources and support.
! Engage with local and state
decision-making authorities
to share successes and
challenges that can inform
future policymaking.
! Partner with culturally
specific organizations
to develop outreach
materials for families
5. Destigmatize COVID-19
! Uphold your students’
civil rights by preventing
bullying, harassment,
and racist behavior.
! Implement truancy and
absenteeism strategies
to ensure students and
families feel supported
and engaged in the
school community.
! Implement strategies that
recognize the different lived
experiences of families and
how COVID-19 has affected
their lives.
Checklist: 5 starter plays for affecting
the social drivers of health
Print this page to help
track your progress
toward completing the
5 starter plays.
1. Begin to address the
impact of institutional
racism on education
and health
2. Connect your community to
resources for food security
3. Work with local health and
human services agencies to
support families enrolling in
Medicaid or CHIP
4. Connect families
or staff experiencing
homelessness to housing
5. Connect families and
staff to programs and
organizations that
support financial security
These plays are useful in both in-person and virtual learning environments.
Seek out partners in equity,
diversity, and inclusion to
provide resources and training
for all school staff.
! Build authentic relationships
with formal and informal
leaders of color from your
! Widely distribute food access
information to families.
! Consider working directly with
a local food pantry
! Ensure that all staff are prepared
for virtual or in-person
home visits.
! Help ensure that eligible families
receive Pandemic EBT
! Work with local health and human
services agencies to support
applications for SNAP
and WIC.
! Coordinate applications for free
or reduced-cost meals or
universal meal programs.
! Find meals for kids when schools
are closed.
! Identify resources for families
who may be ineligible for federal
assistance due to immigration
status or other factors.
!Check to see if your state is
for Medicaid
reimbursement for school-
based health services.
!Educate families about who
qualifies for Medicaid’s free
or low-cost medical benefits:
eligible adults with a low
income, children, pregnant
women, people who are 65
or over, and people with
!Inform families that if income
is too high for Medicaid,
a child may still qualify for the
Children’s Health Insurance
Program (CHIP)
. It covers
medical and dental care for
uninsured children and teens
up to age 19.
! Identify local opportunities
for students and families
experiencing homelessness
and housing instability, like
your local
HUD office, the
Public Housing
or an affordable
housing locator.
! Point students and families
to community housing aid,
like the
National Low Income
Housing Coalition
’s legal
resources and housing
assistance, and community
action agencies
! Create opportunities for your
McKinney-Vento liaison to
educate parents, staff,
and students.
! Encourage families to take
the benefits.gov survey to find
government benefits they may
be eligible to receive.
! Work with job development,
skills training, and employment
programs, such as the U.S.
Department of Labor
Goodwill Industries
! Co-host interview skill building,
ESOL classes, or other workshops
to support families and staff in
achieving living-wage employment.
Checklist: 5 starter plays for implementing physical activity,
physical education, and health education
Print this page to help track your progress
toward completing the 5 starter steps.
1. Require physical
education and health
education instruction
Ensure inclusion of health
education (HE) and physical
education (PE) instruction time
in the master school schedule.
Don’t allow waivers for either.
! PE and HE teachers should
conduct at-home student surveys
to design equitable and appropriate
learning experiences that build
meaningful relationships with
students and families.
! Include students with disabilities
in both in-person and virtual
PE instruction. Adapt teaching
strategies, equipment,
environments, and assessments
to meet the needs of all students.
2. Make necessary
For in-person PE class, focus
on activities
that require no
person-to-person contact
and limited or no physical
activity equipment.
! For virtual learning PE class,
focus on activities
that can
be done in small spaces with
equipment found at home.
! For in-person HE class, follow
CDC and local guidance for
classroom instruction. Focus
on health decisions, health
information, and coping skills.
! For virtual learning HE class,
focus on developing
connections with students,
communicating expectations,
creating consistency, and
making content accessible
for all learners
3. Provide
Provide professional
development to PE teachers
and recess supervisors on
schoolwide COVID-19
prevention protocols,
equipment sanitation, and
virtual learning strategies.
! PE instruction in the virtual
environment may require the
use of additional technology
by PE teachers in order to
deliver synchronous or
asynchronous instruction and
to assess students.
! Ensure that health and PE
teachers receive sufficient
support, funding, and
professional development to
make necessary adaptations
to their curriculums.
4. Offer recess in
person and virtually
! Utilize multiple locations for
recess throughout the school
and outside to reduce the
number of students playing in
one area.
! Ensure sufficient adult
! Limit use of play structures or
play equipment.
! PE teachers should provide
students and caregivers with
guidance, resources, and
suggested physical activities to
help students participate in
daily physical activity when
learning from home.
! All teachers should schedule
physical activity within their
class time for their students
to allow breaks from seat
and screen time.
5. Offer physical
activity in person
or virtually
Provide teachers with examples of
classroom-based physical activities
that can be used to safely increase
student engagement, build
community within the classroom,
and reestablish rapport between
students and teachers.
! Increase the emphasis on
incorporating physical activity
during transitions, the beginning
of the school day, and the closing
of the school day.
! Provide students and caregivers
with daily activities to stay
physically active and mentally
healthy at home.
! Don’t withhold physical activity
breaks or require physical
activities as disciplinary actions
for students.
These plays are useful in both in-person and virtual learning environments.
Checklist: 5 starter plays for enhancing
staff and teacher well-being
Print this page to help
track your progress
toward completing the
5 starter steps.
1. Promote equity and
! Collaborate with staff,
teachers, and local
bargaining units on
your reopening and
continued learning
plan and work duties.
! Provide professional
learning on COVID-19’s
impact on your school,
particularly equity,
, and health access.
! Gather, review, and
address feedback on
the effectiveness of
your reopening and
continued learning plans.
2. Prepare staff
! Provide job-specific
opportunities, such
virtual learning
! Build processes that
help staff and teachers
express emotions
collaborate on solutions.
! Develop clear and
consistent messages
to use throughout your
school community.
3. Foster collective
! Build in time during
meetings for staff,
parents, and caregivers
to connect.
! Provide opportunities for
and shared
decision-making about
employee well-being.
! Engage staff and
teachers during
the workday with
well-being activities.
4. Empower
personal well-being
! Provide learning
opportunities on
and stress
! Allow staff and
teachers to schedule
breaks to care for
their well-being.
! Set clear and realistic
expectations for
in-person and virtual
working hours.
! Promote healthy
work routines.
5. Provide resources
! Promote district-sponsored
health offerings.
! Review and revise your
human resource policies.
! Connect employees to
community and financial-
planning resources.
These plays are useful in both in-person and virtual learning environments.