As Jefferson County Public Schools returns from summer break this week, the state’s second largest school district is investing big in its students’ mental health, although those changes may not be all that visible.
Safety is a top priority for Jeffco Public Schools, Superintendent Tracy Dorland said, but their policies and practices in that regard don’t need a ton of change. They say what they’ve been doing in past years has been working. But where they will be making major changes is in the areas of physical and mental health for its approximately 69,000 students.
“One of the main things that we focus on is training for school staff and district staff to make sure that we have those protocols in place in every building,” Dorland told CBS News Colorado.
“In addition to that, we are making concerted investments in mental health support for students through our ESSER 3 funds, which I think is an incredibly important component to school safety and just safety in our community in general,” she continued.
ESSER refers to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, where the state was allocated money from the federal government from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help plan for long-term closures, training and supplies for sanitation, mental health support, summer school and after school programs.
Among the investments in students’ mental health, according to Dorland, are a $1.6 million investment in telehealth services in all of the district’s 155 schools and trained staff manning vestibules at school entrances.
Those telehealth services are in partnership with Hazel Health, a San Francisco-based company that specializes in telehealth services for children and students.
Littleton Public Schools returns to school on Aug. 17 and Denver Public Schools returns on Aug. 22.