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COVID Support Programs Available for Students & Staff

While COVID-19 has catapulted education into a new virtual space with multiple challenges for our educators, families, and students, West Fargo Public Schools has not lost sight of the importance of the social, emotional, and mental wellbeing of our community. During hybrid and distance learning, schools across the district have been refocusing efforts on building relationships with students and building community within the staff. Teachers have been connecting with students virtually and in person during advisory periods, morning meetings, and throughout the day. Educators realize that academics will only improve after students feel safe, connected, and confident in their lives in school and beyond. Time is focused on supporting the wellness of students, building relationships, establishing safety, and supporting the social and emotional wellbeing of each other as a learning community. As a district, we have refocused current practices and are launching new programs through partnerships with local mental health agencies to continue meeting these needs.

Two new programs that began on November 1 include the COVID Student Support Program and the COVID Staff Support Program. Both programs will utilize money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support the mental wellness of our staff and students. Both programs are a result of partnerships with local mental health agencies: Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota Abound Counseling and Solutions Behavioral Healthcare Professionals. We are grateful for these agencies that responded quickly to meet the needs of the school community and for the support of our School Board that authorized the implementation of these efforts at their October 26 meeting.

The COVID Staff Support Program is available to any district employee (certified and classified staff…inclusive of teachers, specialists, administrators, paraprofessionals, office employees, food service workers, transportation employees, custodians, etc.) who has experienced additional stress due to the pandemic. The program offers 30-minute weekly sessions with a professional counselor, scheduled at times that work for the staff member’s calendar through December 30. Sessions will be customized to the needs of each staff member and could include strategies on stress management, relaxation and coping, and an opportunity to speak with someone about managing day-to-day responsibilities. The sessions are completely confidential and free to West Fargo employees who choose to take advantage of this program.

The COVID Student Support Program is available to any district middle school or high school student who has experienced additional stress due to the pandemic. The program offers weekly 30-minute sessions with a professional counselor, which can be scheduled during the students’ online learning days through December 30. Program sessions are customized to the needs of each student and assists school counseling staff in meeting the needs of more students. Use of the COVID student support program is intended to be short-term. Referrals can be submitted by a school counselor, social worker, administrator, or directly by the student’s family. Please contact your child’s counselor or administrator to learn more about this program and obtain a referral packet. Each student referral must indicate the session is to be a COVID support session for a secondary student at West Fargo Public Schools.

West Fargo Public Schools continues to take important steps forward to develop the social and emotional wellbeing of all students and staff. Schools across WFPS are focusing on developing student and teacher competencies around self-management, self-awareness, social

Dawn Miller, Support & Wellness Coordinator
(701) 356-2000