7 Tips for School Counselors during COVID-19 and School Closures
Updated: Jul 13, 2020
As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the Bay Area, and schools have closed, the importance of providing mental health support for students is increasing just as it has become more difficult to give in-person support. At Elemental we are experts in providing digital support and we’d love to help our counselors make that transition.
Here are our top 7 tips for school counselors - if you find these helpful, please share them with your colleagues! And we will continue to update this blog over time, so feel free to add your comments or ideas below - we are strongest together.
1. Set expectations upfront with students: at the outset of social distancing and school closures, many students will likely have questions about how counseling will work in this new environment. Once you’ve made a plan with your team, set clear expectations with your students about how the next few weeks will be managed. This will help ease confusion and anxiety for them.
2. Utilize video sessions: we believe that video is the next-best-thing to in-person support. If you can’t have an in-person conversation with your students, hop on a video chat with them! You can ask them to use one of the video tools:
Doxy.me is built for telemedicine and offers a free solution that is HIPAA-compliant and secure
Zoom is another great option that is easy-to-use and offers great video quality. Zoom is offering an expanded free plan (use this link to request) for educators during this time. *Pro tip for Zoom: you and your students can change your background to make it easier to chat from anywhere
3. Maintain open lines of communication: when you can’t be in the same room as your students, or bump into them in the hallway, maintaining open lines of communication is paramount. Create a list of the students you want to check in with and decide how often you want to check in with them, and follow that schedule. Encourage them to reach out to you as well, and decide on a medium of communication. Email works, as does text messaging.
Voxer is also a fun ‘walkie-talkie’ like tool that is free and can be a great tool to keep in touch with your students remotely - it makes communication a little more fun and lively for your students!
4. Share stress reduction techniques: these techniques can be used by students on their own and can be especially powerful in a remote setting. There are many available online, but here is a list of some of the stress reduction techniques our team of counselors recommend
5. Set clear working hours and availability: because you’re not in your school environment, your schedule might feel a little more malleable. This can impact your sanity as well as your students’ understanding of how to communicate with you. Set clear working hours and communicate those to your students, as well as your team.
6. Maintain communication with your counseling team: speaking of which, it can also be much easier to lose communication with your team as you go remote. Many of the tips from above can be repurposed for staying in touch with your team: use Zoom group video chats to have regular 10-minute check team check-ins, and stay in contact with whatever medium your team uses for chat.
7. Use Elemental as a resource: we’ve written articles for teens, parents and school counselors - along with general stress reduction tips during COVID. And we’ve heavily discounted our plans for those students who come referred through one of our school counselors - you can refer your students and parent here. Please pass along these tips to your students, parents, and colleagues whom they may help - we are strongest together!
We hope these were helpful - if they were please do share with your communities so that we can help the students who need it most during this time.
And if you have any ideas or suggestions for Elemental during this time, please email our CEO at email@example.com