Guidance for School Counselors 
As schools begin reentry and/or virtual learning, school counselors will face unprecedented challenges. Although the school’s virtual learning plans must be flexible to allow for changes in state and local policies, they should outline what and how school counseling activities will be provided as well as address equity and access issues such as ensuring students have access to computers and internet. As student advocates, school counselors have an important voice to add to these discussions as the school year begins.

Schools and districts across the country begin classes this fall with a mix of settings including reopening for in-person classroom learning – in many cases with adapted schedules and significant health and safety practices – and schools reopening with virtual learning only. And for all schools, the situation could change at any time based on current risk of COVID-19 transmission. What’s certain is that the fall semester, and likely the spring semester as well, will be anything but predictable. 

While many school counseling recommendations and practices for virtual learning and school reentry have been addressed in guidelines documents and other resources, many other questions and uncertainties remain. Below you’ll find resources and information to help you as you navigate this new terrain.

School Reentry: The School Counselor’s Role: School counselors have specific training to help students successfully transition to a new school year, even a year as challenging as 2020. By focusing on direct student services, school counselors can help students develop skills that will help them navigate changing expectations and environments. By providing indirect student services including consultation and collaboration with families, teachers and other stakeholders, school counselors can partner with others to make this year the best that it can be, even with its many uncertainties. 

School Reentry Guidelines and Considerations: Organizations including ASCA, National Association of School Psychologists, CASEL, AASA (School Superintendents Association) and others have released detailed recommendations regarding school reentry. Among the issues addressed are multidisciplinary teams, addressing social/emotional learning and academic needs, school safety protocols and equity and access considerations. 

Program Goals in a Virtual Setting: How schools and school districts track attendance and discipline data may look different this year, particularly in a virtual setting. To aid in the development of program goals during the 2020–2021 school year, refer to this guidance document.

Don’t Skip Your Annual Administrative Conference: As you adapt your program for the uncertain 2020-2021 school year, be sure to schedule a meeting with the administrator who supervises the school counseling program to share your program priorities and plans for the year. Helping your administrator understand your school counseling program and agree on program priorities is more important than ever. 
 
FAQs: Virtual School Counseling Ethics: When school counselors were suddenly thrust into online school counseling this spring, myriad ethical questions followed. Even though online school counseling guidance and recommendations have been available for a number of years, new issues have emerged as all school counselors ramped up to support students whose world had shifted. 
 
Anti-Racism Efforts Upon Return to School: All educators have an obligation to end racism and bias, and school counselors have a unique opportunity to be an important part of the solution. Through implementation of a school counseling program, school counselors promote equity and access for all students and make a significant impact on creating a school culture free from racism and bias. While online instruction will create new challenges, consider how the ASCA standards specifically address the school counselor role in anti-racism. (Coming soon: Anti-Racism Efforts in a Virtual World.)
 
Practicing Self-Care During a Pandemic: School counselors are great at caring for others, but they don’t always care for themselves. Clearly, there are no easy answers when it comes to self-care, but you can take a number of steps to improve your daily outlook.

ASCA’s Pandemic Resources: Since March, ASCA has created and curated a variety of resources related to navigating COVID-19, including webinars, town halls, guidelines, resources, curated information from related organizations and more. These resources are updated regularly. 

New Books for School Counseling: ASCA is releasing three new publications in September 2020, including:
  • Culturally Sustaining School Counseling: Implementing Diverse, Equitable, Inclusive Programs,” by Tim Grothaus, Ph.D.; Kaprea F. Johnson, Ph.D.; and Natalie Edirmanasinghe
  • “Making MTSS Work,” by Emily Goodman-Scott, Ph.D.; Jennifer Betters-Bubon, Ph.D.; Jacob Olsen, Ph.D.; and Peg Donohue, Ph.D.
  • “Making Supervision Work,” by Taqueena S. Quintana, Ed.D., and Sonia Gooden Alexis, Ed.D.
Visit the ASCA bookstore in September to order. 
 
Add Certification to Your Professional Growth this Winter: The new ASCA-Certified School Counselor (ACSC) certification demonstrates school counselor knowledge in designing, implementing and assessing a school counseling program. ACSC applications are accepted twice per year: Jan. 15 (awarded in May) and June 15 (awarded in September). Certification shows your administrators, school board and the community at large that you're committed to delivering a data-informed school counseling program.