COLORADO SPRINGS — As schools sit empty, there's a key component to the well-being of students also ever present in their lives: school counselors.
During times many are facing financial stress, emotional and physical isolation- there's a variety of challenges for students and families. In Academy District 20, the death of a high school student in the last week demonstrated the need for access to counseling.
Normally, situations like these would bring the district's crisis team of counselors to the school. Now, like many services, these are being done virtually. It's a challenge for district leaders as they work to make sure all students have the mental health resources they need.
"I feel for all those students and staff out there that are really just struggling to make those connections," Martha Hinson, Health and Wellness Specialist with Academy District 20 said.
Hinson says having a way to connect virtually helps, although she acknowledges it's not the same as a counselor being able to meet with a student at the school.
The District is not only offering virtual sessions with counselors- teachers are hosting virtual small groups with mental health professionals, and students are also doing peer counseling. Additionally, there are resources on the district's websites for students and families.
In Harrison District 2, Counseling Coordinator Jennicca Mabe says teachers and counselors are also checking in with students.
"This has put a lot of pressure, especially on our students who are resilient," Mabe said, "even some of our students have lost people to COVID and so they're grieving."
Mabe says there are also a lot of emotions students, staff, and others are trying to process. Between milestones such as graduation and prom getting canceled to the financial stress of families and students losing jobs.
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