As the high school social worker, Mrs. Janna Piersma relies in part on face-to-face interaction with students to gauge who might need her assistance. “I used to see someone in the hall and be able to invite them to drop in my office for a minute,” she said. When Timothy moved to home learning March 13 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mrs. Piersma needed to find new ways to connect.
To explore the alternatives, she met with Timothy’s other specialty staff, including Michele Schwarz, K-8 social worker. “It was great that we could meet to develop a united plan to coordinate care for students who are struggling. We have been communicating with each other a lot, so kids don’t fall through the cracks,” Mrs. Piersma said.
The pandemic has created understandable anxiety.
What often replaces those easy office interactions is Google hangouts. “Students can email me if they’d like to talk. For confidentiality reasons, I block out a time in my schedule without writing down a name. Then I create a Google hangout so we can meet,” Mrs. Piersma explained.
The pandemic has created understandable anxiety. “A few students know people who have the virus, so that has been a great concern to them,” she said. “For others, there is stress caused by having to navigate school at home – how to manage their day and materials. That framework for kids isn’t necessarily there.”
Because Mrs. Piersma and her husband, Scott, have two young children at home, sometimes their home and work lives intersect. Explaining how the family is able to manage their home and work responsibilities under one roof, she said, “We have been able to make it work by being mindful and being grace-filled toward one another. This feels like a time like no other — a time to really show God’s love to one another.”