May 21, 2020
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Hosts First Virtual Student Support Circle to Address Learning Challenges and Mental Health Awareness
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond hosted an online panel of students today to have an honest discussion on the challenges, stress, and anxiety many youth are experiencing during this public health crisis and provide student resources for mental health and support.
The new Virtual Student Support Circle event brought together students from different ethnic backgrounds, regions, and grades to share personal stories about managing the transition to distance learning and staying connected with friendsas well as practical solutions on how they have managed to support each other and their families throughout this time.
“Students across the state are experiencing tremendous challenges. Many are grappling with the transition to distance learning and missing out on cherished milestones without friends and teachers,” Thurmond said. “I felt compelled to provide a space to let students know they are not alone and to hear from other students experiencing the same challenges. We have never been in a situation like this in our lifetimes, but I know we will come out stronger.”
Student panelists at the event included Brenna Pangelinan with the State Board of Education (SBE), Maya Howard with the Instructional Quality Commission, Valerie Gonzalez with the Youth Liberty Squad at the ACLU, Stephanie Garcia and Dawit Vasquez-Suomala with the RYSE Youth Center in Richmond, Livvie Rose Sanchez with the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Program, Michael Wilkins from Westmark School, and Josiah Grubbs from Central High School.
Gonzalez discussed the results of a recent student mental health survey completed by the ACLU, which found that 65 percent of students rated their mental wellness at seven or above on a scale from one-to-10 pre-pandemic. Fewer than 40 percent of students rated their current COVID-19 mental wellness at the same level now.
Monica Nepomuceno,Education Programs Consultant at the California Department of Education (CDE), then gave a special presentation on mental health and student resources. The event concluded with remarks by Superintendent Thurmond, who also took questions from the student panelists that covered teacher support, federal aid, and digital access for all students.
This was the first of many events planned for the Virtual Student Support Circle series and follows two virtual support events for parents and educators earlier this month. It can be watched on the CDE Facebook web page . The PowerPoint utilized during today’s presentation, which features information on mental health and student resources, and the student mental health survey will be published on the CDE website and on the CDE’s social media platforms in the next few days.
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100