Mounds View Public Schools welcomed back 11,312 students for the 2021-22 school year, according to Mounds View School Board Chair Jonathan Weinhagen.
Jen Lodin, executive director of student support and engagement, provided an update during the last school board meeting on how students are being supported upon their return to school.
“As we all know, (over) the last year and a half people have experienced this global pandemic in different ways, and as our team worked over the summer to think about what supports in our system will look like, we know it's not going to be a one-size-fits-all support,” Lodin said.
Lodin gave an overview at the Sept. 21 meeting on what the student services department has been working on since last spring as a team.
She said there are mental health services provided at each school building. The student services department hired two mental health specialists this summer — Carla Anton and Julia Geigle — and a chemical health specialist, John Norwood. People can get contact information for these individuals on the website at www.moundsviewschools.org/Page/4037.
According to Lodin, Kognito training will be available for educators again this school year. Kognito training is an web-based interactive scenario-based mental health and suicide prevention training available through a partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health. The training helps educators recognize, respond to and help students who are in mental distress.
“Last year our educators in our system took very seriously the Kognito training that we provided,” she said. “We had a very high rate of our educators that participated in that (over 90% of staff), and they provided really great feedback on why it was purposeful for them and the things that they learned.”
She noted that the Minnesota Department of Health named Mounds View School District a “champion district” because “we implemented the Kognito training program across schools and provided support for staff.”
Lodin also commented that the Minnesota Department of Health created a student version of Kognito called “Friend to Friend” for middle and high school students. “We will be working to implement that this year, and we're pretty excited to have the opportunity to do that,” she said.
According to Lodin, the Mounds View School District was awarded a Change to Chill partnership for the 2021-22 school year. The partnership offers students, staff and program participants an escape from their busy days and daily stressors with a designated space for them to hang out, chill and recenter themselves. A chill zone creates an area for anyone to take a moment to practice mindfulness, self-awareness, connection and relaxation.
Lodin said student support services will also continue the Empower Youth program, a social and emotional online learning tool.
“It really helps support students over 18 weeks; it's kind of like a course that students can participate in, and it's really there to help develop and connect those social and emotional learning tools around whatever their goals or challenges are,” Lodin said. “And they receive coaching from a licensed mental health professional.”
According to Lodin, students, teachers and staff are excited to be back together again in school five days a week. The student services department will have engaging opportunities for students and will continue to monitor students' needs throughout the school year.
“We will continue to work with parents, caregivers, communities and students to best understand what those needs will look like,” Lodin said.
Other board news:
• Executive Director of Administrative Services Bernice Humnick reviewed proposed property tax levies to be certified to the county. Proposed levies for school districts carry the option of levying the "maximum," which means the Minnesota Department of Education calculates a district's allowable levy limit(s) that are set by state statute or voter approval. The board approved the recommendation to certify the proposed property taxes as "maximum" for the payable 2022 tax levy.
• Superintendent Lennox gave a report regarding celebration events in the Mounds View Public Schools building now that construction is complete. A video highlighting the completed spaces can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3kA3gml.
The next Mounds View School Board meeting is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12, at the District Center, 4570 Victoria St. N. in Shoreview.
Noelle Olson is a staff writer for Press Publications. She can be reached at email@example.com or 651-407-1229.