RIVERVIEW, Fla. — As brick and mortar schools prepare to open or already have, counselors are working to make sure they meet the mental health needs of their students.
"Our counseling service doesn’t stop. Only thing that changes is the way we deliver it," Boyette Springs Elementary School counselor Wayne Shaw said.
Shaw has spent 26 years in education, serving elementary students, collegiates and everything in between.
This is his first full school year dealing with a worldwide pandemic.
"The only thing that will change is you have to wear your mask when you come to see me and you have to sit six feet apart from me for the social distancing," Shaw said.
He told ABC Action News counselors help students with an array of issues and they expect to see an uptick in certain topics.
"We’re anticipating an increase of anxiety with our students, we're going to have to deal with more grief session because some of them have lost loved ones in COVID, and then also the social skills," Shaw said. "Being away so long you have to reintroduce social skills, but the social skills are going to be a little bit different than what they’re used to."
Since there will be fewer students on campus, Shaw says it is important for parents to keep an eye out for red flags. Teachers might have a hard time recognizing problems through distance learning.
"Make sure they don’t see them sad or moping all the time or if they go into a depressed state or if they’re sleeping a whole lot," Shaw said.
He also suggests phrasing questions differently possibly starting with, "How do you feel about?" Then lead them into issues to talk to you about. He says it is going to take parents, teachers and counselors working in tandem to make sure students are successful.
"Us working together will definitely benefit their students and to make sure they can reach their full potential as students," Shaw said.
Shaw says Hillsborough County counselors can be used as a resource for students and parents.
Whether your child is at home or on campus, Shaw says feel free to reach out to the school counselor. You can do that through email or even through Canvas, the new e-learning platform for Hillsborough County Schools.