The coronavirus outbreak has changed a lot about the way we live in an extremely short period of time.
But one thing that hasn’t changed is the commitment of Frisco ISD counselors to ensure students continue to feel cared for, capable and connected despite the school closure.
“My goal is to let our students and parents know that we are here for them during this surreal experience,” said Memorial High School Counselor Alma Campo. “Even though we aren’t at school, our objective is always the same: How can we best serve our Warriors? COVID-19 hasn’t hindered our ability to genuinely care for them.”
Counselors are still working to provide students with academic support, college and career planning and resources for personal and social development. It just looks a little different.
“We have communicated with students using mass emails, Remind texts and then phone calls and Zoom meetings with individual students or parents,” said Leigh Casares, counselor at Frisco High School. “Being available and easily accessible for students and parents and sharing resources in one place I believe has eased some of the uncertainty. We have also increased our use of social media and Remind to share information and positive self care messages, affirmations and guidance lessons.”
While regular counseling processes continue to prepare students for next school year, counselors are also available to support families with coronavirus-related challenges like coping with social isolation, work-life demands and economic uncertainty.
Students and parents can request virtual meetings or phone calls via unique sign-up links shared by the campuses. Counselors stand ready to provide mental health support or resources for families who may be struggling emotionally or financially.
“It’s nice to just have someone to talk to when things feel overwhelming,” wrote Sarah Perry and Molly Skirha, counselors at Nelson Middle School. “Our goal is to bring comfort, joy, understanding and support during this time.”
Part of that is providing opportunities for positive social interaction to help maintain a sense of connection and community.
“I am making myself available as much as possible for one-on-one consultations and holding groups where certain grade levels are invited each week,” said Megan Reynolds, counselor at Robertson Elementary. “I want students to have the opportunity to reach each other virtually and make connections that way. So far we have had great numbers, and students are able to come and go as they please. We get to talk about fun things we are learning and doing at home with our peers who are in different grade levels and classrooms.”
These efforts extend to staff as well.
“We recently hosted a FHS Coffee Talk for staff via Zoom, just to check in and see some familiar faces,” Casares said. “It was awesome, the highlight of my day. It was very well attended and I think gave our staff a chance to connect as friends and just be with each other. With eLearning extended another month, we hope to continue to support our staff and their wellness, so they can support our students.”
Counselors continue to provide wellness activities to students and families to promote social and emotional learning and the development of positive character traits such as grit and growth mindset. These lessons and skills help us persevere through challenges and find balance and control in a time of added stress and worry.
“We are all going through some sort of adjustment or change right now and we’ve never done it before,” said Dr. Stephanie Cook, managing director of Frisco ISD guidance and counseling. “I want families to know our counselors have the ability and capability to meet their needs at the individual or group level and I encourage them to take advantage.”
Counselors’ Tips for Navigating This New Normal
“My hope is that our families keep the focus on their own families well being. That is going to look different for each family and that is OK! This too shall pass and the lessons we have from it will be how we treated ourselves and those closest to us during this time. Let go of the small things and focus on relationships. Forgiveness for ourselves and those we love when things don't go according to plan and to keep trying.” - Leigh Casares, counselor at Frisco High School
“I want families to remember that there is no right or wrong during this process and doing your best is all you can do. We can get sucked into judgment or comparisons through social media or the news, but at the end of the day, their home is going to be run and look differently than others, and that's OK! Home and school are different environments, so the structures and schedules are going to be different as well. If the structures and schedules aren't working, it's okay to be flexible and make changes that work for them. We need to give ourselves grace, give your children room to process these changes, and be honest about what's happening.” - Megan Reynolds, counselor at Robertson Elementary
“Be patient with yourself and others. It is important to find the balance and maintain healthy habits. Exercise, healthy diet, organization, routine and good sleep are all important for us to feel our best both physically and mentally. Please reach out when you need help. All of the counselors in FISD are here to support our school communities.” - Sarah Perry and Molly Skirha, counselors at Nelson Middle School
Find more tips here for making eLearning work for your family.