Coronavirus: Guidance counsellers one call away for New Brunswick students

Click to play video: 'N.B. school districts providing remote mental health services'
N.B. school districts providing remote mental health services
WATCH: Anglophone school districts are giving students remote access to guidance counsellors, at a time when parents might not have all the answers. Travis Fortnum explains. – Apr 3, 2020

It’s been two weeks since schools were closed in New Brunswick due to the COVID-19 pandemic – and students won’t be back in a classroom for the rest of the term.

It’s an unprecedented scenario in the province’s education sector.

“It’s unique for all of us,” says Heather Whittaker, counselling lead for the Anglophone South School District.

READ MORE: New Brunswick’s top doctor says coronavirus response not ending ‘any time soon’

It isn’t just lesson plans being adjusted for remote access.

Whittaker says since the initial closer educators have been working on a way to keep students in touch with guidance counsellors.

“We want kids and families to be able to reach out to somebody and to be able to have somebody to talk to,” she says.

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“We know, even for families right now, this is a completely different situation.”

Anglophone South School District launched a phone-in option to get K-12 students in tough with counsellors for any questions or concerns.

From 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, students over 16 or parents can call one of three numbers to set up an appointment.

The lines are broken up by education centre.

  • Hampton Education Centre (Sussex to Kennebecasis Valley) – 506-349-6241
  • Saint John Education Centre (Saint John, Grand Bay-Westfield, St. Martins) – 506-349-7663
  • St. Stephen Education Centre (St. George to the Fundy Isles) – 506-343-5263

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Municipal parks remain open in New Brunswick as long as residents follow the rules

Anglophone South School District Superintendent Zoe Watson says other Anglophone districts in the province are enacting a similar system.

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“We need to be able to support the wellbeing of our students,” she says.

“Even before this, we would see an upturn in anxiety among children, sometimes very young children.”

Click to play video: 'Experts answer viewers’ COVID-19 questions, part 6'
Experts answer viewers’ COVID-19 questions, part 6

Whittaker says if there was one message she could pass onto the students, it’s that they’re not alone.

“This is going to be a tough time, and you’re probably already feeling that it’s a tough time,” she says.

“But we’re all going to get through this together.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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