What a strange and confusing time for educators, parents, and counselors everywhere. We know that each one of you is facing a different and difficult challenge right now. As you know, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 (coronavirus) a pandemic. The stress of preparing for this virus (and for some, dealing with it directly) may understandably increase worry and anxiety in our students, staff, families, and communities.
As schools work to safeguard student health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, school counselors are challenged to meet student needs both at school and outside school in the event of closures. Please make sure you reach out to your district leaders for guidance and policies regarding reaching out to students to provide resources and services. It is imperative that you follow the directives of your county and district.
Here you will find a number of resources for talking to students about the pandemic, including encouraging parents to limit their children's exposure to news media, providing a calming influence to students as needed, and helping students address their fears.
We want to support you as you protect your health and the health of those around you. To that end, we have accumulated resources and tips for you to use and share with others in your networks.
Support for Schools
Mental Health Care
Depending on your district's safety protocol, a school may want to appoint a multidisciplinary team to create plans so services can continue in the event of a shutdown. This team should include an administrator, school counselor, lead teachers, social worker/psychologist, and school nurse, plus other personnel deemed necessary. ASCA has also developed guidance for school counselors to continue to meet students’ needs in the event of a school closure.
Any plan should involve comprehensive school counseling services that would be provided while taking into account legal as well as ethical concerns. Because school counselors do not provide ongoing therapy, the team should develop a list of available outside mental health services and share it with parents and families. The team should also address equity access issues in any coordinated plan as well.
TSCA's goal over the next few weeks is to meet you where you are and to support you as best we can. We also want to be mindful of the amount of information and resources we share, during an already overwhelming time. Here is what we are currently offering:
Regularly scheduled Professional Development opportunities so we can continue to learn from home.
Self-care support for our members.
Continued resource share and updates from ASCA via our social media and newsletters.
Engaging and exciting social media takeovers from your board and our members. Follow us onInstagram! Do you want to take over our Instagram for the day? Reach out to us for a takeover day.
As much as we are here to support our students, please also know that we are here to support you as well. Should you feel as though you simply need a listening ear, a thought partner, or a problem-solver, please know that we are here for you. Wishing you peace and comfort in knowing that we are all in this - together!
Your TSCA Board
Updates from the Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education announced that students affected by school closures due to the pandemic can bypass standardized testing for the 2019-20 school year. Upon a proper request, the department will grant a waiver to any state that is unable to assess its students because of the ongoing national emergency, providing relief from federally mandated testing requirements for this school year. Waiver requests must come from the state. Because student performance, as measured by assessments, is required for statewide accountability systems, any state that receives a one-year waiver may also receive a waiver from the requirement that testing data be used in the statewide accountability system.
Additionally, the department announced that Federal Student Aid (FSA) borrowers who hold federal student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0% for a period of at least 60 days. These borrowers will have the option to suspend their payments for at least two months to allow them greater flexibility during the national emergency. All federal student loan servicers are required to grant an administrative forbearance for a period of at least 60 days (beginning March 13, 2020) to any borrower with a federally held loan who requests one. Borrowers should contact their loan servicer online or by phone.
The Department of Education has released new information clarifying that federal law should not be used to prevent schools from offering distance learning opportunities to all students, including students with disabilities. This new resource from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) explains that as a school district takes necessary steps to address the health, safety, and well-being of all its students and staff, educators can use distance learning opportunities to serve all students.
Keep up with all Department of Education updates on this website. Student privacy information related to FERPA requirements can be found here. Additionally, if you need information about COVID-19 that is not covered on the website, email the Department of Education at COVIDemail@example.com.
We know that many of you are concerned with how to help your intern and practicum students during this time. Here are a few ideas of virtual supervision activities:
TSCA Professional Development Partnership
TSCA is excited to share our latest partnership with the Center for Educational Media and Professional Development (CEM/PD) in the Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) College of Education. As part of a larger initiative, the PK-12 Collaborative at MTSU, the School Counselor Collaborative will be the second professional development program created by CEM/PD. In 2017, CEM started the successful ELL Collaborative supporting educators who work with English language learners. To date, more than 300 ELL educators from 47 school districts have participated in the ELL Collaborative.
Using a similar model, the School Counselor Collaborative at MTSU will be:
Composed of school counseling practitioners and leaders in PK-12 schools in Tennessee
Participant driven, with participants identifying session topics based on their needs and serving as presenters to share strategies, materials, programs and technology that have been successful for them
Scheduled based on input from school counselors to identify optimal dates for sessions
Beneficial for districts with fewer resources and staff to support professional development
Promoting professional support networks and individual contacts across districts which is beneficial for specialized practitioners
Available at no to low cost for participants
The dates for the School Counselor Collaborative Summer Academy will be June 23-24, 2020, at Middle Tennessee State University. This year’s focus will be “The Dysregulated Child.” Beginning in 2020-2021, CEM will offer multiple professional development sessions throughout the school year. The sessions will be recorded and available for all school counselors across the state to access at any time.
TSCA is committed to providing high-quality professional development for school counselors across Tennessee, and we are excited to partner with CEM at MTSU to make this commitment a reality! Check out the TSCA website and social media for future details.
Present to Inspire, Empower, Embrace
National Center for Youth Issues (NCYI) is looking for presentations for the School Counselor and Administrator Leadership Institute (SCALI) that will help to build the capacity of Tennessee school counselors and administrators to help our students be ready for the next step on their academic and social/emotional journey. NCYI will convene a committee to review and select Institute sessions. You will be contacted by NCYI, the organization managing this Institute, to let you know if your proposal is accepted. The deadline for submission is May 15, 2020. Learn more and submit your proposal
Mark your calendar for the Tennessee SCALI: September 13-15, 2020. Join TSCA to be inspired, empowered and embraced!
ACES: The Role of Life Experiences in Shaping Brain Development
Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on our lifelong health and opportunity. So, early experiences are an important public health issue. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can put young people at significant risk for substance use disorders and can impact prevention and substance use recovery efforts.
This is a one-hour training by public health experts in Tennessee on their curriculum Building Strong Brains: The Role of Life Experiences in Shaping Brain Development. It’s an insightful approach community and education leaders can implement to increase protective factors and reduce the impact of ACEs for children and adolescents.
Visit https://www.tn.gov/tccy/tccy-acesfor additional ACEs resources. Building Strong Brains is supported by an investment of the Tennessee Department of health and its partners including the School of Social Work, University of Memphis.
Help for Middle Tennessee
As you know many of our colleagues and students were recently impacted by the deadly tornados in Middle TN. Anyone wishing to help tornado victims can make a donation to the Community Foundation Emergency Response Fund https://www.cfmt.org/story/middle-tennessee-emergency-response-fund/.