School districts preparing social and emotional programs to check on kids virtually

Schools preparing virtual mental health programs for teachers and students

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - School is more than a place for kids to just learn. Mental health counselors use that face-to-face time to make sure students are OK. Now, like so many other things, that too has to go virtual.

“We want to make sure that every single kid has an adult who’s making an interaction with them at minimum once a week,” Charlottesville City School Counselor John Kronstain said.

Kronstain says the Charlottesville City Schools will be providing specialized training for teachers.

“We have a program coming out called Rethink ED, which puts together social, emotional, learning training for educators that is going to be used by all the classroom teachers throughout Charlottesville City Schools,” Kronstain said. “It gives them a baseline to help their students navigate uncertainty.”

Rethink ED will have virtual modules and lessons not only for teachers, but for the students in order for them to learn about their own social and emotional learning.

“It’s all about helping kids identify feelings, helping kids navigate how they’re feeling not just COVID, but how are they were feeling before COVID. How are they going to use these words and terms moving forward,” Kronstain said.

Albemarle County Public Schools have also started brainstorming new ways to keep kids interacting with one another.

“Maybe having lunch groups on Zoom, ways we can check in on our academic progress and support them and encourage them,” Albemarle County School Counselor Don Landis said.

Landis and other school counselors at Albemarle County Public Schools were using a Check and Connect program to stay in constant communication virtually with their students in the spring. They plan on using that model in the fall.

“I checked in with a handful of kids each day. Each week I was on either a FaceTime or Zoom call with a group of kids and checking in on how they’re doing and what they’ve been up to,” Landis said.

Even though most of the conversations will take place virtually during the first few weeks of school, Kronstain says there are no limitations.

“If we have to go out and physically lay eyes on a kid - we will - if I’m that worried about a kid,” Kronstain said.

Kronstain understands that virtual school impacts more than just the students and he’s opening his services to families in the district.

“Personally, I plan on having family office hours every day where families can drop in or sign up for slots to see me about concerns and I can help them do some problem solving,” Kronstain said.

Both Kronstain and Landis agree that getting your child into a routine now before school starts can help them transition into an at-home learning experience.

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