Members of the Student Services Staff take a group photo in front of the school.
Image courtesy of the Oswego High School Website

In these times of change and uncertainty, there are a lot of reasons why teens could be in need of some help and student services is there to provide support. Many students are feeling stressed or overwhelmed with covid, schoolwork, etc. Student services has adjusted to going remote by offering their services in a new way online. 

The newest of these support services is the OHS Virtual Calming Room. The calming room comes with a large array of methods to choose from, it has anything from yoga to basic meditation. Anyone can go into the calming room, but for those in need of more personal help, the site also gives a way to contact school counselors and social workers. It also has links that go outside of school reach, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Illinois Youth Survey Hotlines, Linden Oaks Behavioral Health, and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. 

Jacob Cafaro, one of the school’s social workers, said that the number of students he sees hasn’t changed, but the way he tries to contact them and help them has. Making contact is the most challenging aspect. Cafaro shared that he sends about 50 to 60 emails a day and is lucky if he gets 20 emails back. 

He is still able to provide techniques for managing the feelings of students, despite these challenges. “It obviously isn’t the same as being in person but there are still ways of helping and supporting students,” Cafaro stated.

“it is not the same as in person”

Andrea Parker

Some students could still be on the fence as there may be a lingering feeling of anxiety over the staff’s ability to do things for students over remote learning, which is a completely valid concern.

“I do believe that we still have the same ability to connect [to students]… the way that we figure out the best way to contact each individual student, to have the same connections, may look different,” Andrea Parker, assistant principal in charge of student services, stated. In whichever way is best for the individual student, student services staff will be sure to do whatever they can in order to suit the needs of that individual to the best of their ability. 

Not only has going remote affected students, but also the student services staff. It can be stressful for them when they can’t contact students or get through to students because they don’t know if something is wrong. 

The stress of the pandemic has also taken a toll on the staff but they won’t let that stop them from doing their job to the best of their abilities. “We’re a very close group, so we kinda support each other in that sense,” Cafaro stated. 

There’s no question that no matter how much the teachers try to fill the gap between themselves and their students during this time, it won’t compare to the abilities of staff to connect in person.

Parker, although confident in her staff’s ability, admits that remote learning presents challenges for the staff. “Not being able to see our students, even with the best conditions, it is not the same as in person,” she stated. 

Most everyone in student services wishes they could meet with their students face to face. It has been an option for some students to come in-person for a meeting, but with all the health concerns, there are very few students taking advantage of that opportunity. 

During remote learning, students are encouraged to make appointments and visit the virtual calming room as needed. No matter what way a student uses these resources, it is all confidential and anonymous. For ways to contact the student services staff and set up remote meetings, click here.

All students can rest assured that the student services staff are ready to support them at a moment’s notice, even remotely.

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