#schoolsafety | More counselors hired for local schools as pandemic learning, mental-health challenges grow | Subscriber

While the news quickly spread in the community, it didn’t have a notable effect on students in the school, Cook said, but the counselor was available if needed.

“Kids are pretty resilient. As long as the adults that are in their lives are modeling the appropriate behavior, they’re able to mimic and follow along,” she said. “We need that all over the place.”

In Tucson Unified School District, where 140 counselors are on staff, nearly all vacant positions have been filled thanks to the influx in funding, said Rebecca Carrier, the district’s counseling coordinator.

One area of hiring focus is at the district’s Virtual Academy, the online learning option for children who still aren’t back on campus.

TUSD had anticipated a lower enrollment, but with nearly 2,000 students enrolled at the academy at the end of the first quarter, the district is working to hire more counselors to serve remote students, Carrier said.

The increase in on-campus counselors has allowed more direct contact with individual students and small groups, and allowed counselors to spend more time on college, career and academic support.

Carrier said it’s important to emphasize social-emotional learning and mental health as it relates to academic outcomes.

“Prior to COVID, we were seeing a huge jump in youth mental health concerns. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for tweens and teens in the U.S. and Arizona,” Carrier said. “We were seeing huge increases prior to COVID. Currently, we’re still seeing that.”

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