SCs Cont. to Provide Instruction & Support to Students & Families during Teaching & Learning @ Home

Posted By: Gail Smith Advocacy ,

School Counselors Continue to Provide Instruction and Support to Students and Families during Teaching and Learning at Home

When Governor Kemp announced a temporary closure of schools in March as a precautionary step to prevent the spread of COVID-19, no one knew how quickly and dramatically educators, including school counselors, would have to pivot to continue to provide instruction and support for our students. School counselors continued to support their students and school communities through:

  • Identification of families in need and distribution of food and educational technology
  • Crisis response, including mandated reporting, suicidal ideations/completions, death of a family member, separation from family, homelessness, etc.
  • Virtual counseling of students and families on topics concerning fear, anxiety, grief, social connection, positive thinking, growth mindset, coping strategies, engagement (virtual classroom involvement, character education, trauma, COVID relief, etc.
  • Delivery of school counseling standards for students in virtual classrooms and groups
  • Counseling of high school students on issues including the HOPE Scholarship/Grant, other scholarships, letters of recommendation, risk of not graduating, virtual instruction participation, graduation activities, etc.

School counselors have made clear impacts on their communities during the pandemic:

“After a student posted a response in our counseling lesson ‘we need food for the baby,’ I reached out to my personal community and gathered diapers and formula for a students’ family with a premature baby. The mother responded, ‘God bless you.’“

I work with seniors, and by the first weekend in May, 44 of my potential, graduating seniors were failing one or more classes with three weeks left!!  I was able to email or call each one to step up their work and finish strong amid their disappointing and challenging last semester.  I'm happy to say all but two of the original 44 actually failed, and they will graduate after passing summer school.“

“One of my student’s father was recently sentenced to prison, and my student was struggling with anger and even the mention of his father’s name. He stated that he was crying frequently and lashing out on his family members, and he just wanted to feel better. For over an hour on Zoom, I listened and affirmed this young man. We talked about his strength and resilience and about what and who helped him. We practiced deep breathing and positive imagery until he was ready to hang up. A follow-up with his mother led to a tearful ‘thank you’ for helping her son.”

“I started a 15 minute morning news show to hold cohesive our identity as a school.  The news allowed me to recognize students and staff members each day who were working diligently and present community resource options and to discuss current topics like anxiety, physical health, and mental health. The morning news certainly kept us connected as a school, helped me communicate resources, and allowed me to be accessible to our families.”

“A single mother of three boys was unemployed once the pandemic started.  One week her car broke down, so she was unable to go the weekly food distribution, and they were down to just a few food items.  Our student's teacher connected her with me, and I was able to find her somewhere she could get food the next morning.  By the next day, we had gas cards and grocery store gift cards we were able to give her to get them through the crises.  With the help of the school social worker, we connected the family with financial resources and talked her through possible places to find assistance.  Finally, with the help of our PTA, we were able to find some summer clothes for her growing boys.”

The current events in our nation have opened a wound that was already gaping. School counselors have been and will continue to be a critical component to healing and remediating our student’s emotions, skills, and knowledge. We may not have trained as virtual counselors, but we were trained to be flexible and advocate for the success of all students amid adversity. We very much appreciate your support as we do this crucial work in our communities and around the state.