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LOSD ramps up mental health services, social emotional learning during distance learning

Lake Oswego School District's mental health services aren't stopping with school closures. Just as classes are finding their way online, counseling sessions and social emotional learning curriculum are too.

Assistant Director of Student Services James Sanders said he sees many silver linings in school closures.

For one, the district is still including SEL in its instructional days.

"We've been in a process as a distinct moving to including more social emotional learning," he said.

SEL curriculum teaches a student to understand and manage their emotions, which has been shown to increase academic achievement.

At LOSD it's incorporated into the school day in different ways depending on grade level.

The shift to distance learning has undoubtedly changed how SEL is handled. With the new schedule, Sanders said SEL content is introduced to parents and students on Mondays for them to work on throughout the week.

He said the content depends on a student's developmental stage but generally they are focusing on things like coping skills, mindfulness, kindness and patience — all things he said are especially important during school closures and stay-at-home orders.

He said there is an independent component and a family discussion component.

"We know that parents are really inundated right now," Sanders said.

He said the district is trying to be mindful of what they're asking of parents.

LOSD Director of Communications Mary Kay Larson, who has children in the district, said her family did the discussion component over dinner and really enjoyed it. REVIEW PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - LOSD Communications Director Mary Kay Larson

In addition to SEL content, counselors are available to students for individual sessions. Counselors are using Google Hangouts to hold meetings with students. Sanders said depending on the grade level, counselors would get in touch with either the student or parent.

Larson added that parents can also schedule a meeting for resources, as counselors are available to them as well.

Sanders said the district is in a good place as far as staffing and they've blurred the lines between counselor, social worker and psychologist for the time being to ensure that a mental health professional is available when needed.

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