DELMARVA – Many schools across Delmarva offer extensive health and wellness services like counseling even doctors appointments. However, school officials say they’re now facing challenges when it comes to getting those resources to students who are still learning in a mostly, if not all, virtual setting.
“I think that the pandemic and the physical closure of school buildings has really highlighted how many things that students and families rely on the school system for,” says Lauren Williams, the Coordinator of School Health Services for Worcester County Public Schools.
Schools across Delmarva have become a hub of resources for students, many offering a long list of health and wellness services often at a reduced cost or no cost at all. “Out of the wellness center we offer mental health, physical health, reproductive health, nutrition services,” says Tina Torres, the Coordinator and Nurse Practitioner Seaford High School Wellness Center.
But officials say the physical closure of school buildings has impacted the way they’re able to reach students. “Obviously from the medical health perspective a lot of well child visits have been delayed or cancelled all together. Kids are missing their immunizations so that’s definitely been a focus as well to try and get these kids caught up on their vaccines,” says Torres.
The pandemic is also having a specific impact on teens because experts say kids that age are typically very social. “We’re dealing with a lot of kids that are isolated at home, they’re not getting that social interaction and that can really be detrimental for their mental health,” says Torres.
So like everyone these days, school health officials are adapting and working with what they have like offering counseling sessions online and accommodating kids who are learning remotely by scheduling times for them to visit in person.
“We can make appointments and do a COVID screening at the door so that they can come in and still have access to us and access to the services,” says Torres.
Officials say they’ll continue to do all they can to make sure students and families know about the services available even if they access them differently these days. “We’ll still have all of the same things to offer that we usually do in our brick and mortar buildings it just looks a little different in a virtual world,” says Williams.
Worcester County officials say they’re waiting for approval from the state when it comes to their telehealth services that would allow them to have a school based health clinic in Pocomoke. Meanwhile in Delaware, the are dozens of School-Based Health Center locations across the state that continue to operate.