The department of Student Services has been actively working to assure that all student’s psychological, social, mental and physical health needs are supported. Our school and district mental health professionals are continuing to check-in with students and provide group and individual counseling and supports in their remote learning environments. Additionally, our mental health collaborative partners and community agencies are providing ongoing counseling services and are accepting new referrals for mental health counseling as needed.

Our staff continue to reach out to families both remotely and face-to-face visiting homes to make certain that students have the necessary tools to successfully engage in their day. If students and families are experiencing difficulties or there are barriers, we are committed to connecting them with the appropriate school and community resources. We understand that this is a very challenging time for so many and, in an effort, to remain connected with our students and families we have a help line available for families to contact if there are concerns about their student’s social, emotional or behavioral health. WE are here for you. WE truly are all in this together.

Supporting the Social and Emotional Needs of Students

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St. Lucie Public Schools school psychologists, social workers, and mental health counselors are available for parents/ guardians who have concerns about their children’s social, emotional, and behavorial health.

Parents and Guardians may call 429-4510 from 8am – 3pm, Monday-Friday to speak with a SLP S school psychologist, school social worker, or mental health counselor.

Topics of conversation should be focused on educationally relevant topics, such as how to help a child maintain a routine and strategies to address anxiety during this time.

Conversations do not constitute a counseling relationship, however if additional supports are requested, staff may provide families with information to link them to school and/or community resources.

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Things That You May Hear From students

I am scared I am going to get sick.

I am afraid that someone in my family is going to get sick.

People are saying that America will be hit with the virus and I am especially worried for my grandparents.

I am worried about the outbreak of the Coronavirus.

I don’t want to come to school for fear of being exposed to the Coronavirus.

We are going on a family trip and I am worried about going. Is the school going to close?

Ways to Support Students

Remain calm and reassuring

Let students know that adults at school are working to keep them safe and healthy

If any student appears to continue to show heightened levels of anxiety, contact the certified school counselor on your campus

Resources

What To Look For During Times of Stress

For most of us, this is the first time we’ve experienced the isolation that has been the unfortunate consequence of being stuck in our homes for weeks on end. While these measures are absolutely recommended by doctors and scientists to curb the spread of COVID-19, we need to be mindful of the impact the isolation has on all of us. Schools serve not only as places to learn and grow, in an academic sense, they also serve as the social outlets for many of our children. As a result, they may be feeling especially isolated, which may lead to more intense feelings of worry or fear or sadness. Since children do not always have the words to express their emotions, they are more likely to demonstrate behavioral changes. We want to pay attention to those changes for signs that they may be struggling with their feelings. A few examples of where to look include changes in mood, appetite, or sleep. Some children may even start to regress. Following are some behaviors to look for in children of all ages:

Preschoolers—thumb sucking, bed-wetting, clinging to parents, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, fear of the dark, regression in behavior, and withdrawal.

Elementary school children—irritability, aggressiveness, clinginess, nightmares, school avoidance, poor concentration, and withdrawal from activities and friends.

Adolescents—sleeping and eating disturbances, agitation, increase in conflicts, physical complaints, delinquent behavior, and poor concentration.

While it may seem that children are being defiant, it also could be that they are having a hard time coping with the stress and isolation that has resulted from this pandemic. If your child is demonstrating some of these behaviors, talk with them about how they are feeling. Remember to keep the lines of communication open, provide reassurance when it is needed, and seek assistance if you and/or your children need it. We all are in this together. Stay safe and healthy!

Child regression

Signs of regression in kids and what to do about it

CDC Guide for Handwashing and Hand Sanitizer

Handwashing and Hand Sanitizer Use at Home, at Play, and Out and About

Confident Parents, Confident Kids

My Kid’s School is Closed, Now What – Activities for Children and Parents to do at Home

https://confidentparentsconfidentkids.org/

Simple Activities for Children and Adolescents

https://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/resources/fact-sheet/ simple_activities_for_children_and_adolescents_4.pdf

NAMI – National Alliance Mental Illness

COVID – 19 Information and Resources

https://www.nami.org/getattachment/About-NAMI/NAMI-News/2020/NAMI-Updates- on-the-Coronavirus/COVID-19-Updated-Guide-1.pdf?lang=en-US

Scientific American

How to Prevent Loneliness in a Time of Social Distancing

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-to-prevent-loneliness-in-a-time-of- social-distancing/

Child Mind Institute

The ultimate kids’ guide to coronavirus

https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-kids-guide.html? fbclid=IwAR24O9h2w7aYU_p5syk2cXRx8u5YZOA7r3A6XF0LvT3CfAD4_IMkeX3MbQ8

Families in Supporting Their Children with Disabilities in Virtual Formats

FIN has created a new tip sheet to support families entitled, “Tips for Families in Supporting Their Children with Disabilities in Virtual Formats.” As a result of COVID-19, schools are moving to distance and virtual learning and families are being challenged to supervise educational activities at home. FIN has developed this tip sheet to assist families of students with disabilities in working with their children using a virtual format. The tip sheet is available in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole. To view the tip sheet in one of the available languages, see the following:

 

 

Speech and Language

Speech language pathologists are sending activities to student and families specific to IEP goals, working with students via asynchronous video lessons, and conducting real-time interactive video therapy sessions with students. Additional tips and activities that parents can use to support speech and language development, at each grade level, throughout each day from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website:

In Early Grades K–2

  • Talk with your child a lot.
  • Read different types of books. Read every day, and talk with your child about the story.
  • Help your child learn sound patterns of words. You can play rhyming games and point out letters as you read.
  • Have your child retell stories and talk about his day.
  • Talk with your child about what you do during the day. Give her directions to follow.
  • Talk about how things are the same and different.
  • Give your child chances to write.

In Later Grades 3-5

  • Keep your child reading. Find books and magazines that interest your child.
  • Ask your child what he thinks about what he hears or reads. Connect what he reads to events in his life.
  • Help your child connect what she reads and hears at school, home, and other events.
  • Talk out loud as you help your child read about and solve problems.
  • Help your child recognize spelling patterns. For example, point out the beginnings and endings of words, like “pre-” or “–ed.”
  • Get your child to write letters, keep a diary, and write stories.

Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty

Right now, many of us are worried about COVID-19 or Coronavirus. We may feel helpless about what will happen or what we can do. When things feel uncertain or when we don’t generally feel safe, it’s normal to feel stressed.

Stress can be a normal reaction, but sometimes it can also take a toll on our mental health. We don’t always know it’s happening. You might feel more on edge than usual, angry, helpless or sad. You might notice that you are more frustrated with others or want to completely avoid any reminders of what is happening. For those of us who already struggle with our mental wellness, we might feel more depressed or less motivated to carry out our daily activities.

It’s important to note that we are not helpless in light of current news events. We can always choose our response. If you are struggling, here are some things you can do to take care of your mental health in the face of uncertainty:

  1. Separate what is in your control from what is not. There are things you can do, and it’s helpful to focus on those. Wash your hands. Remind others to wash theirs. Take your vitamins. Limit your consumption of news (Do you really need to know what is happening on a cruise ship you aren’t on?).
  2. Do what helps you feel a sense of safety. This will be different for everyone, and it’s important not to compare yourself to others. It’s ok if you’ve decided what makes you feel safe is to limit attendance of large social events, but make sure you separate when you are isolating based on potential for sickness versus isolating because it’s part of depression.
  3. Get outside in nature–even if you are avoiding crowds. I took a walk yesterday afternoon in my neighborhood with my daughter. The sun was shining, we got our dose of vitamin D, and it felt good to both get some fresh air and quality time together.  Exercise also helps both your physical and mental health.
  4. Challenge yourself to stay in the present. Perhaps your worry is compounding—you are not only thinking about what is currently happening, but also projecting into the future. When you find yourself worrying about something that hasn’t happened, gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Notice the sights, sounds, tastes and other sensory experiences in your immediate moment and name them. Engaging in mindfulness activities is one way to help stay grounded when things feel beyond your control.
  5. Stay connected and reach out if you need more support. Talk to trusted friends about what you are feeling. If you are feeling particularly anxious or if you are struggling with your mental health, it’s ok to reach out to a mental health professional for support. You don’t have to be alone with your worry and it can be comforting to share what you are experiencing with those trained to help.

We are in this together, and help is always available.  If you’re feeling alone and struggling, you can also reach out to The Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741 or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

The Multiagency Network for Students with Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities (SEDNET) creates and facilitates a network of key stakeholders committed to assisting in the provision of a quality system of care for students with or at risk of emotional and/or behavioral challenges.

SEDNET’s major areas of focus include:

  • Interagency Collaboration
  • Technical Assistance and Training
  • Education and Systems of Care
  • Parent and Youth Development and Involvement
  • Capacity Building

For more information or to request assistance from SEDNET please contact  

Jody Hays, SEDNET Specialist  

Jody.Hays@stlucieschools.org 

 

Exceptional Student Education

dawna 5.jpgAs the Nation’s school systems have moved from brick and mortar to virtual learning, the Exceptional Student Education Department of St. Lucie Public Schools is committed to providing a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) to our students with disabilities. Our teachers, support staff and therapy providers are working to ensure that the entitlement to the specialized instructional program, related services, supplementary aids and services are all delivered through the remote learning process.

Our district staff has been working to assist teachers with strategies for the implementation of the IEP driven services including the guaranteed accommodations. We have collaborated with ESE specialists and teachers at the schools to make sure students are receiving instruction via Canvas, TEAMS, Unique Learning System and/ or teacher made paper packets. We have created Technical Assistance Papers and Q & As to provide guidance to the school staff as we move forward with IEP meetings through a virtual format.

As a department, we are committed to providing on-going guidance and support to staff, paraprofessionals and behavior techs, so they can continue to assist students in their home learning environments. Many support staff are joining the ESE teachers in virtual group sessions, offering virtual reinforcements, and assisting with assignments just as if they were in the classroom. We are charged with ensuring a free appropriate public education to all students. We will continue to search and learn about the best practices for teaching and learning in the virtual world.

The Multiagency Network for Students with Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities (SEDNET) creates and facilitates a network of key stakeholders committed to assisting in the provision of a quality system of care for students with or at risk of emotional and/or behavioral challenges.

A Message from the Executive Director:

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We kicked off the beginning of the school year with an attendance campaign entitled “We Belong in School.” Our campaign highlighted the importance of student attendance, establishing connections to school and building relationships that would enhance their academic and behavioral success. Who knew that within a few months of ending school, we would be hit with a Global Pandemic which would completely alter our way of work.

As we think about our theme now, it is more important than ever to reinforce this message with our students and families. We Still Belong in School, it is just a different type of learning environment. The home has temporarily replaced the brick and mortar school building. As our Superintendent, E. Wayne Gent has said, “Our buildings may be closed, but we are open for teaching and learning virtually.”

This will be a time when our work becomes more collaborative than ever, when everyone pulls together to educate all children. We have all joined forces to provide quality instruction and assistance to teachers and the many individuals who play a vital role in the education of our children. Our assistance and support has extended to our families who have opened their homes virtually to the many individuals who have a role in the education of their children. Our focus has never wavered. We continue to focus on the academic, behavioral, social and emotional, physical and mental health needs of our children.

These are uncertain times for all of us and we are all in this together. We know there will be some bumps along the way and that it will take some time to work those out, but we will continue to provide support and assistance throughout this process. Our goal is to ensure that all children have equal access and equal opportunity to continue their educational program.

Our division is here to support you and we are just a phone call, an e-mail, or a text message away. Please feel free to reach out to us with your questions and concerns.

There is a famous saying by Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” This is the time when the best of our character and humility comes forward. We Belong Together, let’s lead the way through this new adventure; find the opportunities that exist in adversity; and, most importantly find a way to connect and support each other.

We hope you enjoy our first newsletter which is filled with resources for faculty, staff, and families.

The Multiagency Network for Students with Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities (SEDNET) creates and facilitates a network of key stakeholders committed to assisting in the provision of a quality system of care for students with or at risk of emotional and/or behavioral challenges.

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