ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. -- Lucia Mar Unified School District has created a new online check-in program that allows teachers and school officials to monitor students emotional and social wellness.
Each week before an advisory class, students answer a series of questions that ask them how they are feeling and doing.
"We have a questionnaire that we push out every Friday," said Linda Pierce, Lucia Mar Director of Student Services. "It's a check-in. Kids answer how they're feeling. They're feeling good, they're feeling horrible, they need some extra assistance, so it's just that quick check in, and then the responses are followed up on after the responses are given."
The check-in was developed over the summer by a team of people, including psychologists, counselors, administrators.
It was created in response to the added stresses students are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced instruction to take place in a virtual format for an indefinite period of time.
The distant education format is causing many students to remain in isolation for long periods of time, separated from their friends, teachers and school environment.
"It's way different being compared to normal school," said Nipomo High School student Prestono Krier. "You don't get to see your friends as much. You can see them on the screen, but it's not the same."
The questionnaire typically lasts no more than two minutes, with the answers made available to teachers in realtime.
"It's to see how our kids are doing," said Pierce. "We don't have those natural passing down the hall or seeing them in class, so this is just seeing our kids are doing and make sure they have an outlet to reach out for help if they need it."
High school students answer five questions by clicking on an appropriate response, while middle and elementary school students answer four questions using emojis.
"The elementary schools have a happy face or kind of an anxious face or angry face," said Pierce. "They click on that face and then they can add any additional information that they'd like to give us."
Once teachers receive responses from students, they are able to provide guidance to students in a timely manner should they require extra assistance.
"It allows us to follow up specifically with those individuals, check-in with their families, identify any needs they may have and support them," said Nipomo High School Principal John Denno. "Our counseling team does an amazing job reaching out to those students and follow up as well, it's not just a one time, hey, we saw that you submitted this, but, hey, last we spoke, this was a concern, how are you doing now? Are your needs being met? Are there any additional concerns that you may have?"
This Friday marked the second week the district has utilized the new online wellness check-in.
Lucia Mar plans to keep it through the remainder of the online education format.
"I think it's a really good idea to show that the teachers care about the students. It's all new to students and a lot of people," said Krier. "It will help certainly students. I think it will really help different students go through this difficult time."