Cumberland County Schools tackles emotional toll of virtual learning

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The COVID-19 pandemic has everyone experiencing some sort of stress or anxiety. Cumberland County school officials recognize the emotional and social toll on students and the district has come up with solutions.

Kayla Njoku is a professional school counselor at E. Melvin Honeycutt Elementary School and has witnessed the psychological impact virtually.

"What I'm seeing the most is the lack of connection with classmates, with teachers. Now that we're starting with new teachers, lot of them don't even know the other kids in their classrooms," Njoku said.

According to Njoku, the district is prioritizing student's social and emotional learning. The challenge counselors are facing is getting students to open up during virtual sessions.

"Our concern is some kids who would talk to us at school about safety concerns can't do that at home through the computer," Njoku said.

Some solutions that the school district is using are the student services hotline, deep breathing exercises and the virtual calm rooms. The calm rooms were created to provide students with coping strategies. It's that relax, refresh and refocus approach that promotes academic success for students with anxiety.

"Those calming rooms provide a variety of resources like guided meditation, yoga exercises, relaxation, music. Just to help bring down the stress level," said Cumberland County Schools social worker Shareka King. "If the social and emotional wellbeing is not healthy, that's when the academics will suffer."
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