Counselors keep busy meeting student needs


Head Counselor David Vigneault and the BHS counselors are ready to answer your questions.

Sunjum Dhillon, Staff Reporter

Distance learning has completely upheaved how students attend school, learn and interact. Due to social distancing and Coronavirus, the whole process of school has changed: no longer do students wake up and drive to their first class of the morning, greeting friends and classmates all the while. Now, after waking up, students may go to their dining table, desk or maybe even stay in bed to attend school. Certainly this is different from what most students are used to. Some students may need help adjusting to the lack of contact, while others may need help adjusting to the new learning style. 

Head Counselor David Vigneault wants students to know: he and the other counselors are here to help, and they understand your stress.

School start-up is one of the busiest times for counselors, who must make sure all 1,550 students’ needs are being met in regards to schedules, course changes, credit evaluations, Credit Recovery, 504 Accommodation notifications, attending IEP’s, and so much more.

“What has made it much more difficult is doing all the above in a new distance-learning format,  a format which is new to all of us as well,” said Vigneault. “Counselors have never had to start a year in this format either.  It’s a huge learning curve.  It’s not without problems, even for us.”

He gave the example of trying to make a routine schedule change. 

“This was never an issue because the student would go to teachers for signatures of approval,” said Vigneault. “Now all those have to be approved on-line and over a 24-hour notification period.” The quick turnaround time was required to keep teachers from losing access to student grades. “This kink has been worked out, but this is just an example.  Add in many of these nuances, and that’s what we have been dealing with.”

For the last few weeks, Vigneault and the other counselors have been conferencing with all of their deficient students already and are beginning to conference with seniors who want and need one-on-one meetings. This week they have been going into senior government and economics classes to review their senior presentation and hold a Q&A – virtually through Zoom, of course.  Next, they will be reaching out to freshmen via a counselor video presentation and Slides presentation, which they will publish on the BHS website.  

“We are currently holding individual senior conferences with those seniors who want a one-on-one conference,” said Vigneault, who encouraged students to check their school email for messages from their counselors. “Numerous emails and other notifications have gone out, and seniors are slowly responding.”  Unfortunately, student outreach is not as simple as sending a call slip to a student; once again, distance learning presents challenges.    However, all seniors, juniors, and sophomores will be afforded an individual conference between now and November.  Freshmen will have individual conferences in the spring.  

Vigneault stressed that the counselors are only a Zoom call or email away.  

“We are open for business as usual,” said Vigneault. “Students can email us at any time regarding classes, help, social-emotional issues, and much more.”

Students simply email their respective counselor, and they will answer them right away.

“We have already fielded hundreds of these types of requests from students, parents, teachers, and administrators,” said Vigneault. “We are also assisting with tech issues, connectivity issues, and many other issues associated with distance learning.”

Vigneault said that although they are available any time, it’s best to email counselors during the Distance Learning Support period so they are not taking students away from crucial class time.  

He also noted that all schedules are final.  “We are no longer changing any schedules,” he said. 

While he acknowledges that their work as counselors is continuing, he also notes that he misses the students very much. 

“Nothing replaces true meaningful one-on-one contact with students,” he said. “I miss our meetings, hallway passings, impromptu drop-ins from students, etc.  It’s definitely not the same without them all here.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we get to come back to school in the near future.”

Until students return to campus, Counselor Shari Rosenberg has her counseling groups on hold, although she is continuing her support of students on a volunteer basis. 

“Currently I am responding virtually or by phone to students who previously had a relationship with me,” said Rosenberg. “Because I am not on campus, I am not receiving in-person referrals, but I have received referrals from teachers,  which I really appreciate.  I would very much like to engage with the students as much as I can.”

Rosenberg is available for social-emotional counseling. She is reachable by email at [email protected]  to arrange a plan for communication.