Identifying Opportunities to Respond to Students’, Staff and Families’ Needs in the Time of COVID-19
In March 2020, within the span of 10 days, our community’s Kindergarten -12th grade schools and childcare centers closed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Their doors remained shut for the remainder of the year, and as the 2020-2021 school year approached, they considered whether remote learning would be the best option. Many parents grew concerned about whether they could maintain their jobs and simultaneously provide their children with the supervision and support needed to make remote learning a success. Fortunately, in the short period in which remote learning was instituted last spring, many lessons were learned, and systems have been put in place to help ease the challenges many parents face.
To address their concerns, the North Bergen Municipal Alliance and Partners in Prevention have committed themselves to improving wellness and providing opportunities for North Bergen residents to live healthier lives, even during this pandemic. Among school districts, the North Bergen district exceeded all expectations last spring by supporting students and families in every capacity possible. The Guidance Department set up specific information on each school’s web page regarding access to available assistance such as food pantries and free medical resources, during the closure. At the elementary-school level, each counselor posted a social and emotional lesson weekly in their Google Classrooms with suggested at-home discussion questions and activities for families to increase participation and engagement. Through district-wide announcements and other communications, students, staff and parents alike received encouragement to contact the guidance counselors with any concerns and questions. In addition, each school had a guidance web page that has all relevant information for students and parents to access.
The North Bergen School District is currently implementing a completely virtual learning model through the end of the first marking period. Amid this new environment and any uncertainty or heightened stress it may bring, North Bergen’s school counselors are prepared to provide students and families with effective coping skills to manage whatever challenges they may face.