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District 202 social workers create online counseling resources

District 202 social workers and counselors created virtual resources including online “calming rooms” where students can get help with their emotional and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic and remote learning.

The online resources include special web pages ranging from informational pages listing resources to virtual calming rooms.

They are posted on school websites and available to students through their Google Classroom accounts. The resources are different for elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Heritage Grove Middle School social worker Angela Fedinec said these resources are a good way to connect with students during remote learning.

“These kids are isolated right now, they don’t have all the supports they have when they are in school,” she said.

The virtual calming rooms offer links to music, meditations, cell phone apps, healthy recipes, hotlines and text lines for suicide and crisis counseling.

These online spaces offer students a place to get help since they cannot see a social worker or counselor in person, said Jenny Gawenda, a school counselor at Plainfield South High School who created a virtual calming room for PSHS.

“Social workers and counselors have seen a spike in anxiety” during remote learning, she said, “and these resources will benefit our students.”

Autumn Wieland, a social worker at Crystal Lawns and Grand Prairie elementary schools, said she spends most of her time in school responding to student issues.

“We need to have a place for these kids to go when they are experiencing the same emotions when they are at home,” Weiland said.

Plainfield High School-Central Campus social worker Jaclyn Kwiatt said the rooms could reach students who may never have needed help before.

“(The calming rooms) will expose them to the different types of things that mental health care can offer,” she said.

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