How Counselors Suggest Handling Online School


Emily Krese

Student getting back into the swing of in person school studying in the Skyline library

“Take a breath”: Skyline counselors give their input on virtual school

Students have struggled to face the realities of online school since the rise of Covid. Skyline has had to close down school on multiple occasions due to rising case counts, forcing students to quickly transition back and forth between in person classes and virtual classes. Skyline counselors have done everything in their power to aid their students in these difficult times.

Liza Dedvukaj and Jacinta Nafziger, Innovation counselors at Skyline, have both had numerous students come to them about these stressful times. “Just take a breath and realize that we are all struggling,” says Dedvukaj.  “It’s a crazy time and it is important, honestly, to put your mental health first. Work with your counselors and teachers…we are here to help support you. You are not in this alone.” 

When asked what advice she would give to students who are feeling overwhelmed with online classes, Nafziger said, “Don’t give up, we are in this together and there are a lot of resources out there for all of us to get through it.” 

A recent report by 17 national mental health organizations (NPR, 2/16/22) rated how well schools are handling the ongoing mental health crisis in young people. The states were ranked based on how much they are doing to contribute to the goal of helping students. Colorado was ranked one of the highest because and Georgia was ranked one of the lowest. Georgia has not put many policies regarding bullying or mental health in place. Colorado has leveraged Medicaid to cover school-based mental health care for all eligible students.  They also implemented anti-bullying policies and the schools are instructed to address any discimination that goes on.  Michigan lies somewhere in the middle in this national ranking. 

According to the NPR report, the recommended ratio is 1 psychologist for every 500 students. The recommended ratio from students to counselors is 1:250. Casey Elmore, an SLC principal said “Our counselors have around 200-250 students on their caseload.” According to the recommended ratios, Skyline is doing great. This report emphasizes the importance of mental health in students and raises our awareness of it.

One reason students struggle is because of the lack of in person interaction. “Students need that interaction amongst each other,” says Dedvukaj. “Students miss the pre-covid normal school day, seeing friends, teachers, counselors, and staff. I feel like being isolated during a time like this is really stressful and I think that one of the things students get most anxious about is not having their peers to talk to during such a stressful time,” Dedvukaj continues. 

Nafziger also noted, “There’s a lot that we miss in the virtual world especially because we respect students’ privacy and you don’t have to have your cameras on, so you miss out on getting to know each other and supporting each other… So, we miss things when we are online.” 

If you are feeling anxious, stressed, overwhelmed or just need someone to talk to, please know students are always welcome to come into the counselor’s office or talk to a social worker. You can find them in the A and C hallways on the third and fourth floor. They are eager to help those who are struggling.