District 116 launches emotional support for families during pandemic

Updated 11/20/2020 7:00 PM

As the COVID-19 pandemic worsens, Round Lake Area School District 116 has begun creating new resources for parents dealing with emotional distress.

On Thursday, the school district hosted its first online emotional support group with parents on Zoom, with a second group meeting set for Dec. 3. The school district also plans to issue newsletters with information on dealing with ongoing fears and burdens associated with the pandemic.


"We are living in a time where we could all use a little help in regulating and managing strong emotions," Social Emotional Learning Coordinator Jennifer Cooper-Wells said in a statement. "Not only are we dealing with a pandemic, we are also encountering grief, loss and other stressors."

The 90-minute Zoom session was led by Cooper-Wells and Social and Emotional Learning Specialist Crystal Oswald to discuss how the 23 parents who joined were holding up. Participants were asked to rank their emotions as being sad, happy, angry or frustrated and to name what they are most thankful for.

The Weekly Social Emotional Learning Newsletter will be sent out to give parents in the district strategies to help while interacting with their children, other family members, friends and colleagues and in dealing with emotions themselves.

District 116 classes are fully remote, with measurements too high for in-person learning in two of three metrics set by the school district and by health authorities: average COVID-19 caseload and average percentage of positive tests.

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In October, parents were asked their concerns about remote learning through multiple surveys, and the results showed they were concerned about the workload, increased screen time and lack of social interaction with peers. Forty-eight percent of parents said that they would choose hybrid learning methods -- a mix of in-person and virtual learning -- if they were available.

Cooper-Wells sees opportunity in teaching parents the same strategies the children are learning to deal with negative emotions.

"Parents can implement the strategies in the home for their children as well as for themselves during these stressful and uncertain times," Cooper-Wells said.

The next session will be held on Dec. 3 via an email link sent to households.

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