La Crosse schools ready to help kids navigate back-to-school in times of COVID

There’s still a lot of uncertainty about what school will look and feel like this fall nd that can cause a lot of anxiety in kids.

News 8 Now’s Mike Thompson shows us how La Crosse schools are preparing to support the mental health of returning students.

From remote learning to social distancing to fewer sports and afterschool activities kids have been dealing with a lot of big changes to their normal school routines over the past year. But La Crosse school district leaders say they’re ready to help them navigate through the challenges.

As kids start to fill these halls again soon school leaders know each child will adapt to a new year differently.

They’ve already seen an increase in the number of students dealing with anxiety and depression during the pandemic.

“Our students that already struggled with those issues, sometimes they became amplified due to COVID,” said Aimee Zabrowski, director of student services. “Some of the students we saw presenting with some of these issues were kids that we don’t normally see coming to our student services staff for support.”

And it’s not just older students.

Mental health issues are happening across grade levels just presenting in different ways. Even kids who are high achievers have been affected.
“Sometimes we saw more disengagement. Students that really wanted to be engaged and were really impacted by the lack of social input, actually became less engaged,” Zabrowski said.

The good news is there are a lot of resources available in the district to help.

“Ranging from support from our school-based student services staff, our counselors, our social workers, our school psychologists, our school nurses who can provide support day to day in the classroom or support to families,” Zabrowski said. “We have partnerships where we work with community counselors/providers to come into our school and provide counseling therapeutic services in our school.”

The district is also starting a new partnership with Gundersen Health System this year called the Student Family Assistance Program.

Gundersen employees will be able to provide free counseling and mental health services to students and families who may not otherwise have access.

The district is also focusing on social-emotional learning.

The goal is to reinforce these skills so kids are better able to handle adversity

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