By Brooke Katz

DeSOTO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – DeSoto ISD is focusing on more than academics when it comes to their students.

The school district is working to make sure kids are emotionally healthy, too during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“We’ve all known for some time that if our students are not in an emotionally healthy place, learning rally becomes limited and impacted,” said Natalia Fernandez, the Chief of Student Support Services with DeSoto ISD.

That’s why faculty and staff are working hard to connect with kids while they’re learning from home.

Fernandez said in-person contact is critical to identifying potential mental health needs, but with classrooms closed they’ve had to find new ways to check in.

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Some of those ways are built into the district’s new Anytime, Anywhere Learning components.

Other methods are more direct.

“What we do have is a whole bunch of staff members calling, checking in, having these one-on-one touchpoints with the students and their families,” Fernandez said. “If concerns come up on those phone calls, we are able to flag those for our counselors.”

Campus counselors are giving group lessons to multiple grade levels during scheduled class meetings. For high school students, they’re holding virtual office hours with discussions on college and career readiness.

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Staff is also working to help families experiencing hard times connect with resources in the community.