Mental health, social-emotional wellness remain among top priorities in NCWV school systems | WV News
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WV News) – In preparation for school re-entry this September, the county’s school systems in north central West Virginia are placing an emphasis on mental health well-being and socio-emotional learning while students return to school for for the first time in almost six months.
School systems and health professionals believe that mental health and socio-emotional wellbeing will play a big role in returning to school this fall.
According to Daryle Maher, Harrison Schools Special Education Curriculum Coordinator, this year’s professional development and training on behavior and trauma is more important than ever for educators because of the trauma and the social, emotional and academic needs of students after so long in school.
“Our county’s past and current superintendents have been great supporters in providing additional support and professional development related to student behavior, mental health and wellbeing,” he said.
“We know students need that extra support and intervention. It just seemed more prominent than normal because we were out of school. But that has been in the works for a while and it certainly makes sense. “
In addition to educating school staff on student and employee mental health and trauma response, the county also plans other mental health clinics, Robert C. Byrd High School, Washington Irving Middle School, and Nutter Fort and Wilsonburg Elementary Schools to add.
These supplements will be the only schools in the county with mental health clinics, along with Liberty High School, Mountaineer Middle School, Adamston, and North View elementary schools.
“We hope we can keep up with mental health needs,” said Dr. Kevin Junkins of Community Care of West Virginia. “Neither of us know what will happen when we reopen and the students come back, and that’s the big thing – neither of us know what will happen tomorrow in the pandemic. People are really concerned about it and there is a lot of uncertainty in it. “
Junkins said Community Care’s hope is to support the students who need them, but its concern is to identify students who may be under the radar and fear.
“Right now, fear is normal – there are people who didn’t have problems before the pandemic but now meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder,” he said. “I think it will be very important that we are flexible, reduce the stigma in schools and let the kids know that we are there and if they are struggling or having it hard it is okay to talk to us and let us know. “
According to Superintendent Adam Cheeseman, Doddridge County Schools have worked with students for many years to create an atmosphere that makes them feel safe and cared for.
“Our emphasis on the holistic child is more important now than ever,” he said. “Our holistic children’s department has worked over the summer to keep in touch with students and cultivate the relationships they have developed over the past year, and our teachers have received additional training on mental health services over the summer.”
As the pandemic weighs heavier on families, Cheeseman said the county’s school system plans to address those concerns with students year-round.
All of the first week of school will set an important tone for the year, Cheeseman said, as schools will bring students in by grade level to orient them to the new realities they need to adapt to.
In Doddridge County, schools are required to set up a crisis response planning team; Provide access to professional student support staff; implement a continuous advisory system; Providing an integrated provision of social-emotional standards; and develop a plan to ensure students feel safe, welcome, and connected to at least one caring adult in the school.
Taylor County Schools recognizes the importance of socio-emotional and psychological well-being and also plans to include crisis response and crisis response planning for students.
The district’s school plan points to the state requirement to ensure that all policies and procedures are culturally sensitive and ensure equity and access for all.
Taylor County Schools will:
– Implement a system that provides meaningful supportive relationships to students and maximizes each student’s personalized learning experience;
– Participating in resource mapping to identify available resources and needs, which should include an examination of existing school-based teams;
– Establish a school mental health resource team focused on the physical, socio-emotional and psychological wellbeing of students, staff and families. School counselors, school psychologists, school nurses and social workers are trained to provide socio-emotional and psychological support to students;
– Develop a referral system for those in need of targeted support and access to school and community mental health professionals;
– Developing a protocol to interact with students at risk, including students with previously identified mental health problems and / or affected by COVID-19;
– Clearly communicate re-entry plans with students, families and school staff, and identify and address re-entry concerns;
Ensure that disciplinary action takes a trauma-informed approach and that school staff are provided with professional learning opportunities, including trauma-informed schools and adolescent mental health first aid, so that they are better equipped to support students, families and each other ;
– Develop strategies and support for students, families and staff for each stage of recovery prior to reopening, immediately after reopening and long term support.
The plan also notes that Taylor County Schools plans to meet the needs of school staff by providing resources for staff self-care, compassionate fatigue prevention and resilience, and additional information about staff support programs available in the community.
“Fear and anxiety about COVID-19 can be overwhelming,” says the Taylor County Schools re-entry schedule. “The precautions that continue to be taken to slow the spread of the virus, and the uncertainties those precautions may cause, can create unexpected emotions in both children and adults. Schools must give priority to social-emotional learning efforts and the mental health needs of students.
“Students, their families and school staff must also feel that their physical and mental needs are being supported. Schools play a vital role in supporting the social and emotional wellbeing of students, their families and school staff. “
At Upshur County Schools, Superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus that the county is pleased to provide additional measures to meet the physical, social and emotional needs of its students. Eddie Vincent, director of wellness and child nutrition, heads a department that focuses on the well-being of the whole child.
In addition, the Community in Schools West Virginia program was established through a grant to the Upshur County School System that enabled the recruitment of three Community in Schools brokers, she added.
“In addition to these facilitators, social emotional learning specialists will support elementary, middle and high school students,” she said. “This program surrounds our students with community support that enables them to stay in school and achieve something in life.”
“Based on the needs of schools and the community, school leaders help provide academic support, basic needs, behavioral interventions, college and career preparation, community and ministry learning, family engagement, life skills, mental and physical health and enrichment. This helps ensure that our students get the support they need.
Kailee Kroll can be reached at (304) 626-1439, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @kaileekroll.