Topic: Checking In With Families
March 31, 2020
It’s hard to believe that three weeks ago we gathered for the 5th Annual San Diego School Counselor Con. It was a great day of professional learning and an opportunity to pause from our busy schedules and connect with our professional community. By the end of that week, preventive measures had been taken to stop the spread of the COVID-19, resulting in large gatherings being prohibited, travel banned, and the closure of schools. In a span of five days, a new normal had been defined for how we live, how we socialize, and how we spend our time. 

In uncertain times like these, we can sit and wait for this all to pass, or we can embrace an opportunity to look at our role as educators and how we can insert ourselves in a different way. What I have learned and observed over the past three weeks is that as school counselors we have a desire to help and we feel obligated to provide answers and solutions. When our role as we know is in flux, we search for resources and support only to find ourselves overwhelmed and in information overload.

Since information about COVID-19 changes rapidly, in order to keep you updated and provide you with current details and support, I will be sending out a weekly newsletter with a focus on one new topic each week. The goal is to keep you informed without feeling overwhelmed, and keep you connected within our school counseling profession and community.
 
I know that many of you are on spring break, or you might be returning and are wondering what next steps to take. We all have a lot of questions and we are learning and struggling forward together. What I do know is that we will get through this and we will only grow into better leaders and school counselors through it all. Stay safe and stay healthy. We need you!

Tanya Bulette, Counseling Coordinator
San Diego County Office of Education
THIS WEEK'S TOPIC - Checking In With Families
The topic selected for our first week is about communication and checking in with our students and families. In the article, Focusing on Student Well-Being in Times of Crisis , one study shows that s imply talking about our problems and sharing our negative emotions with someone we trust can be profoundly healing—reducing stress, strengthening our immune system, and reducing physical and emotional distress.

To ensure the safety and well-being of our students, we are encouraging school counselors to reach out to their families and check in. We know that there can be questions around what that may look like, so we have created sample talking points, along with a sample email/letter for school counselors to use. We also recommend that you discuss and develop a communication plan with your principal and/or district leadership to establish and create a consistent message.

SCHOOL COUNSELOR RESOURCES:
To assist school counselors with checking in with students and families, the following communication tools and resource guides have been created for districts and school sites to use:
ROLE OF THE SCHOOL COUNSELORS DURING AN EMERGENCY SHUTDOWN
School counselors are the first line of defense and can provide students with direct and indirect services to support their academic, social/emotional, and career development needs. The rapid spread of COVID-19 has forced districts to implement emergency shutdown plans. During this time of high levels of stress and anxiety, school counselors can continue to provide comprehensive school counseling services via virtual platforms.
VIRTUAL SCHOOL COUNSELING
Across counties in California, school counselors are providing services utilizing a variety of means and varying levels of technology as they work to find the best ways to connect and communicate with students and families. We know that connecting and supporting your students is the top priority

Statewide leaders from the County Offices of Education Leadership for School Counseling network partnered with the California Association of School Counselors and Hatching Results, LLC to prepare a Virtual School Counseling Toolkit with resources that K-12 school counselors can use to navigate this new reality. This resource has been shared throughout the state and we want to make sure that it is distributed to all school counselors and school social workers in San Diego County. 

During natural disasters and crises such as COVID-19, schools may need to move to a virtual setting. School counselors are then asked to provide school counseling services online, often with little time to prepare or little experience in virtual school counseling. Learn about the legal and ethical issues that can arise when conducting your school counseling program in an online world, both in emergency cases and in regular practice. Link to recorded webinar.

ASCA Resources
LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

In this episode, Trish Hatch interviews Rachel Pekin about her experience as a school counselor in China during the COVID-19 pandemic. She describes her “new normal” and gives advice for those who are at the beginning of this crisis. Click link for recorded podcast.
STAY CONNECTED

  • Encourage a colleague to sign up to receive this newsletter.
  • Stay connected and share your work by following these accounts and tagging these handles in your social media posts. 
  • Twitter: @SDSchCounselors
  • Instagram: SD_SchoolCounselor
  • Hashtag: #sdcounselors
If you have any questions or comments on the Counselor Network newsletter, please contact Tanya Bulette  at tanya.bulette@sdcoe.net .
Get up-to-the-minute information about what's happening at SDCOE and in our districts across the county.