As depression and anxiety has increased among students this past year due to the pandemic and distance learning, Lodi Unified School District is considering the purchase of an online tool that will help staff intervene in an emotional crisis.

The district presented an overview of Panorama’s Universal Screener and Playbook programs to the Board of Education on Tuesday night.

Panorama provides an online library of support programs, activities, resources and intervention guides that district teachers and counselors can use to help students going through emotional issues.

District staff identified seven schools in its north Stockton area as target campuses for the program. Those campuses include Ansel Adams, Creekside, Manlio Silva, and Wagner Holt elementary schools; Delta Sierra Middle School; and Bear Creek and McNair high schools.

All students at the identified schools would complete a “universal screener,” a self-identification survey that takes about 15 minutes and identifies factors or symptoms related to mental health or social emotional distress.

Based on data collected from the screener, students would be provided with the appropriate support by school staff.

The cost to purchase the Panorama materials for the target schools would be $23,750 a year, and will be funded through the district’s Comprehensive Coordinated Early Intervention Services plan.

Board members questioned why only seven schools were chosen for the program, and why they were only in north Stockton.

Program coordinator Aisha Bryce said the seven schools were chosen based on student discipline.

“Those were the schools that had the highest disproportionality in terms of their (overall) suspension, and their suspension of African American students,” she said. “The proposal is to start with our target schools, because we were able to identify a direct funding source. But we will gladly take the board’s lead in terms of how to proceed.”

Michelle Orgon, president of the Lodi Education Association, said the tool would be beneficial to all district schools, and asked if principals had been contacted to gauge their interest in participating in the program.

“I’m sure the board has heard about the social emotional requests and needs teachers are seeing out in the field,” she said. “And I think, not to put anything else on someone else’s plate... as we we’re looking at things going forward, I think that emotional part is key, as we’ve been in this distance learning for almost a year.”

Board members agreed, and while they acknowledged staff’s reasons for choosing just seven schools, suggested perhaps expanding the service district-wide next academic year.

“I can see us looking into this and seeing how well it worked, and expanding it next school year or the year after if that would be worthwhile,” board member Ron Heberle said. “A lot of times you don’t know until you get into it. This sounds good, and it has potential, but will it work? This will help us see if it really does work.”

District staff will bring a formal proposal to the board’s Feb. 2 meeting for adoption, with direction whether to stick with the seven schools or expand the program to all campuses.

“This is amazing that for so little money, we could get so much and help our kids, especially in these very dark difficult times,” president Ron Freitas said. “ But I think (other board members) hit the nail on the head. I think we need to do this at more than seven schools. I have absolutely no problem with us doing that, especially when it’s just $3,000 a school. This is money well spent.”

To learn more about Panorama, visit www.panoramaed.com.

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