A system of charter schools around Texas is helping its students cope better with their feelings of isolation and confusion amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Texans Can Academies is providing a counseling service that students can use 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Texans Can has 14 campuses across Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Houston, all of which are closed currently.
Students can access counseling services by calling to set up an off-campus appointment or connecting with a licensed counselor via telephone, 24/7. The counselors help the students navigate a range of problems and are available for everything from emergencies to minor issues.
Texans Can covers the cost of the services, allowing the students to receive confidential, complimentary crisis intervention help whenever they need it.
In 2019, the program helped nearly 100 students.
"Of the 97 students that utilized the Student Assistance Program counseling services, they presented with multiple symptoms and had a total of 203 different concerns," says Jose Luis Torres, Texans Can executive director of student services. "Additionally, there were 152 instances of clinical services with 58 percent of cases involving issues related to emotional health and 25 percent of cases associated with family or relationship issues."
Amid the concerns about cornonavirus, students are struggling with a long list of anxieties, the school says: possible illness in the family, lack of social contact, and job loss either for themselves or family members. Graduation is now uncertain and prom has been canceled. For some kids, the free school meals were the only reliable source of food.
Experts say that in the wake of it all, students' mental health concerns can be expected to spike.
The school system's website has an entire page dedicated to daily coronavirus updates and other resources, accessible to the public.
Texans Can Academies is a tuition-free, public charter school system. With students ranging in age from 14-21, it caters to kids who have trouble in a traditional school setting and takes a holistic approach to education.