To the extent that school-based health centers (SBHCs) are able to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic, we know it is critical to stay connected to patients whose health risks and history are known. This will help deliver care and prevention, keeping children and youth out of overburdened emergency systems. Some of the innovations and adaptations in practice by SBHCs include:
Some SBHCs have set up screening tents to keep patients with symptoms or possible COVID exposure from entering their clinics. Staff review screening questions and check temperatures before patients enter the health center.
Telehealth & Telephone Visits
Many SBHCs are quickly learning how to provide telehealth services. Some routine care and medication refills can be handled by phone. See our telehealth updates page for more resources. One SBHC is providing mental health skills groups through Zoom for students and school staff!
Navigation & Referrals
This area is critical for making sure students and families know how to access care in the community. Closed sites should: ensure they reroute their phone lines; check voicemail regularly; leave alternate resources on their voicemail greetings; and post resources on school and SBHC sponsor websites. SBHC staff can also help connect students and families to food distribution through local schools and the community, or help inform them about the expansion of unemployment benefits.
SBHCs are reviewing future schedules to determine what services and clients can wait, who needs to be seen in person, and who can be managed by telephone or telehealth.
Many sites are utilizing non-licensed staff to call or text patients to check on their health and well-being, and see if they have any immediate needs. Those that are closed then offer referrals to other providers. Some suggest asking patients for their email addresses so you can add them securely to your EHRs for outreach in future crises. Community Health Center Network has a helpful patient screening and outreach tool.
Oakland High School’s Shop 55 SBHC, operated by the East Bay Asian Youth Center, created a resource guide for youth and shared it school-wide. Please download and adapt the guide for your students.
Health educators are creating messages for YouTube, Twitter, and other online channels.
Supporting School Staff
SBHCs, especially behavioral health providers, can counsel teachers and school administrators, who are overburdened right now, and who may have concerns about themselves and their students. Others can offer self-care tips, guidance and resources such as online exercise or mindfulness classes.
Time to Reflect
SBHC staff can take advantage of unplanned downtime to plan, evaluate quality, assess the needs of their school population, and connect with school staff.
- Children and COVID-19 and Information for Schools, Workplaces, & Community Locations– CDC
- State of California Safe Schools for All Hub
- COVID-19 Response Education Resources – State of California
- Resources for Children and Families – Children Now
- Resources for Schools – California Department of Education
- Planning for the Next Normal at School: Keeping Students, Staff, Teachers, and Families Safe & Healthy – Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools
- COVID-19 Updates – California Department of Public Health
- Guidance on Requirements to Protect Workers from Coronavirus – Cal/OSHA
- Telehealth: See our telehealth updates page. The state is encouraging all counties to permit telehealth services within state and federal requirements to minimize COVID-19 spread. See more information:
COVID-19 Behavioral Health Information Notice, telehealth resources, telehealth FAQ, Family PACT provider FAQ, and Medi-Cal and telehealth website – California Department of Health Care Services
- COVID-19 FAQs for community health centers – California Primary Care Association
- Printable COVID-19 resources in multiple languages – California Endowment
- Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers – State of California
- How to Talk to Teens About the New Coronavirus – Harvard Health Blog
- Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope With the Coronavirus Disease 2019 – National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) fact sheet
- Healthy Home Learning Environment Handouts for Students and Caregivers in English and Spanish: Help students manage distance learning.
- Introductory Yoga to Help Parents Reduce Stress: This beginner yoga class shows gentle supportive ways to move the body.
- Sleep and Nutrition Videos from Asian Health Services Youth Program: Get tips to improve sleep and diet.
- Coronavirus Anxiety Workbook: Find different ways to manage pandemic-related stress.
- Supporting Latinx Student and Caregiver Mental Health, Part I & Part II: Learn the difference between social distancing and disconnection and how to manage the stress of being apart as well as ways to manage challenging emotions.