Research shows the importance of mental and emotional well-being for students and staff, which has both psychological and ultimately academic outcomes. We know, after this prolonged closure, many of our students and staff will require social-emotional supports to help them re-engage and re-enter work and school. As a District, our commitment is to create emotionally and physically safe, supportive and engaging learning environments promoting all students’ social and emotional well-being and development. The pandemic has elevated the role of leaders in creating conditions helping students practice empathy, create social bonds across distance and adapt to new learning experiences. Counselors, school based health programs, and wrap around supports will play an extremely important role in the adjustment period when buildings reopen and access to school counselors and school-based health programs will be invaluable supports to our students. School counselors and administrators will be equipped with tools and information needed to see each child through a social emotional lens. We are committed to developing/making accessible family/caregiver-appropriate social and emotional learning (SEL) content to be used during all phases of our re-entry. We remain committed to supporting all students and maintain our whole child commitment as well as equipping all staff to connect, heal, and build capacity to support our students.
District Resources for Student Social-Emotional Support
Merrell’s Strong Chart program will be used to support our kindergarten through grade 5 population and the Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS) will be used to support our grades 6-12 population. Teachers will identify students who appear to be struggling academically, socially and emotionally, and communicate with the school counselor, student, and families to provide appropriate supports and classroom interventions.
If academic, social, or emotional struggles continue, grade level teams/classroom teachers will work with the school counselor, students, and families to provide appropriate supports and classroom interventions. Strategies may include planning and goal setting, mental health check-ins, opportunities for self-reflection, and social interactions as applicable.
If academic, social, or emotional struggles continue, the school counselor will use the resources of the Child Study Team to provide additional interventions. These may include but are not limited to the school social worker, the school psychologist, the school nurse, the district’s prevention coordinator (at the High School), the county’s social services liaison (through the School Intervention Partnership), the county’s probation department liaison, and the TREATY attendance interventionist.
School-based counseling services will continue for eligible students no matter what instructional model is in place. Scheduling will take into account the need for students to maximize in person instructional hours and the privacy considerations of remote counseling.
The district has added a school counselor at the elementary level to support our K – 5 population attending every day and we participate in the R4K community grant.
District Resources for Supporting Faculty and Staff
All Herkimer Central School District employees have access to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which offers many free services including face-to-face and virtual counseling.