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Back to school: Counselors prepare for pandemic stress from students

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Posted at 8:06 AM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-06 13:39:50-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — School counselors are gearing up for the upcoming school year and ready for any challenge the pandemic gives them.

The past year and a half was something educators have never experienced before.

"It was quite taxing, especially at the end of the school year and going into a school year," Travina Jarvis, lead counselor at Southeast High School in Kansas City, Missouri, said.

One of the biggest concerns from teens in the Kansas City Public School District was technology.

"To start your year on a computer with just a face of seven to eight different people trying to log into things. It was an experience," Jarvis said.

Jarvis said even when students came back to in-person learning, it was hard on teens.

Over in Olathe, technology was a key stressor as well.

"Absolutely students were overwhelmed with the technology having to learn it, having to figure out a different way of doing things," Angie Salava, Director of Social Emotional Learning and Mental Health Services for Olathe Public Schools said.

The pandemic is also taking a toll on student's mental health.

"We had an uptick in students with symptoms of anxiety last year and I anticipate that still happening this year with the world changing so quickly," Salava said.

So, the district kept up with students and even helped parents who are struggling.

"This summer, we ramped up our summer mental health offerings that we have through our summer mental health clinic. We saw over 160 clients this summer in our summer clinic. We also held nine groups a week for students, so, in addition to individual therapy, our students also participated in group therapy," Salava said.

As the new year approaches, both districts have one key message for students: there is always someone to talk to.

"When they are feeling sad or when they're feeling down that those are very normal feelings. Secondly, I want them to know that there are people in our schools who can help," Salava said.

"The adults in this building, every door is open. It's not just mine," Jarvis said.