The eSchool Media K-12 Hero Awards, sponsored by Trox, highlights inspiring examples of education during the COVID-19 pandemic

Mental health, student well-being remain a top priority in this district

The eSchool Media K-12 Hero Awards, sponsored by Trox, highlights inspiring examples of education during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and that means educators across the globe are still finding inventive and innovative ways to support and teach students in classrooms, during hybrid instruction, and in virtual settings.

The eSchool Media K-12 Hero Awards program, sponsored by Trox, recognizes the determined and dedicated efforts of educators throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Never before have educators been challenged and tested as they were, beginning in March 2020 and up until today, and never before has their resilience been more apparent. Administrators, technology leaders, classroom teachers, and educators in all roles have persevered as they taught each and every one of their students during a global pandemic.

Here, eSchool News highlights the San Bernardino City Unified School District–one of its K-12 Hero Awards finalists. Keep reading to discover how this district keeps learning going in the middle of a global pandemic.

Nominee: San Bernardino City Unified School District

Nominated by: Hazel Health

What makes this nominee a hero?

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced San Bernardino Unified School District—along with almost every district in the nation—to flip from in-person to remote learning overnight. San Bernardino, a district with over 50,000 students and 88 percent of those students eligible for free or reduced lunch, had significant challenges to overcome in order to continue serving students as school buildings shut down.

That sudden, jolting change meant students and their families needed even more support at home. San Bernardino USD’s Student Wellness and Support Services team stepped up to the challenge and made it a goal to support and engage students’ families through health and wellness services. Partnering with telehealth provider Hazel Health, the district put together a robust health and wellness plan in a very short timeframe.

The plan consisted of several key strategies, and the most important was letting students and their families know that free health and wellness services were available. A lot of families started to get COVID-19 fatigue from the numerous emails about the pandemic, so it was crucial to 1) emphasize that the health and wellness services were free and 2) build trust with students and their families.

The Student Health Wellness and Support Services team worked throughout the summer, putting together resources, learning the warning signs and risk factors around mental health concerns in youths (and adults), and collaborated with educators to identify where social-emotional learning (SEL) topics made sense in instructional lessons—all in addition to monitoring the pandemic.

With remote learning still in place the following fall, San Bernardino USD took full advantage of its relationship with Hazel Health and expanded health and wellness services districtwide to 72 schools across San Bernardino—connecting students and their families with counselors, checking in on students and their families, and offering resources throughout the 2020–21 school year. The districtwide team effort made all the difference.

The Student Wellness and Support Services team credits the focus on students’ health and wellness to several important discoveries. For example, the team was able to discover that one of its students had a very serious, life-threatening, diagnosis—something that might’ve gone unnoticed otherwise. In addition, the partnership provided reliable, valuable information about COVID-19 for students and their families–an especially important initiative with misinformation and a sense of nervousness in the community.

Today, Hazel Health is embedded in the fabric of the San Bernardino community and works closely with San Bernardino USD. The district now sets strategic goals around students’ health and wellness and is working with Hazel Health to support student attendance in the future. This coming school year, Hazel Health will work closely with SBCUSD as students return to school sites for the first time in 16 months. While the pandemic has been stressful for students, families, and educators at the district, the support from the Student Health Wellness and Support Services team and Hazel Health has made a positive impact on health and wellness.

Laura Ascione
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