COVID-19 is an illness caused by a virus that can spread from person to person. Symptoms can range from mild or no symptoms to severe illness, and may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Symptoms may include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea. You can become infected with COVID-19 by coming into close contact with an infected person, from respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, or by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Mental Health, Behavioral and Emotional Support Services and Programs
The Nichols Counselor/Wellness teachers will adapt in-person counseling and classroom Wellness classes to meet New York State guidelines for safety and social distancing from a trauma informed and social emotional learning (SEL) platform. We recognize both students and teachers have and will experience a significant amount of change and are sacrificing “normal” behaviors for the common good. The counselors will collaborate with the school community to provide a safe and trusting environment for all involved.
In-person sessions will have to be kept to a maximum of 15 minutes with students if held in our offices. Sanitization will occur between consecutive student sessions, and there will be a set amount of time with no students in the offices should consecutive sessions need to occur. Outside space will be used as often as possible. If more than a brief session is required, we will have to move to a larger space or continue by using a confidential Zoom or phone call. This space will need to be planned out. Virtual counseling will be available during a hybrid or online school protocol via Zoom. CORE Team members will follow the same protocol. Counselors will work closely with the school nurse, teacher and administration to address any needs or emergency issues.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) refers to the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Within the Trauma-Informed/SEL framework, the counselors will guide our school in helping to provide an atmosphere where individuals feel validated while we coach everyone in how to make responsible choices for community safety. We will offer teacher training to become a trauma-informed school, to learn about student mental health, teacher self-care and teacher burnout and social and emotional learning.
The guiding principles of a trauma-informed school are that we work as a system to reduce likelihood of re-traumatization. Trauma can take many forms and we need to bring to light that students and teachers experience massive change over the last few months. Leading with a trauma-informed framework means ensuring safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness and empowerment. The concept is similar to “universal precautions,” in treating the entire community with dignity and inclusion, while recognizing that a student’s adverse situation or inability to cope will likely affect their ability to learn.
Given that the counselors do not have classrooms, Wellness is taught in borrowed rooms. Nichols will provide a designated space for each counselor to put down items for teaching so as not to use the classroom teacher's desk. Smartboard items will need to be sanitized prior to use. Students will need to be assigned personal wellness textbooks as opposed to a classroom set. Wellness teachers will follow the Nichols classroom protocols.
Identifying needs is a priority since the New York State plan suggests using data to drive the program. We will develop student and parent surveys to assess social/emotional and mental health issues and concerns.
Important Phone Numbers
Erie County Department of Health COVID-19 Hotline 716.858.2929
Nichols Health Office and School Nurse Michelle Derenda: 716.332.5105