St. Ursula Academy (SUA) student Lauren Fletcher found herself feeling a bit lost when the school moved to at-home learning in March. The graduating senior was always busy before—she was the leader of two clubs and an active rower in addition to having a part-time job—and now found herself with little on her schedule.

“The hardest part was I didn’t know what to do with my time anymore,” says Fletcher.

She turned to Laura Roman, chair of the counseling department for the all-girls Catholic high school in East Walnut Hills, for help and advice. Luckily, the department had found ways to shift its services online while providing new ones needed for this unique moment in time.

“We wanted to make sure that we had a balance of doing all the things that we need to do to support our students but not overwhelming them because the whole situation in and of itself is overwhelming,” says Roman.

Within the first three weeks of at-home learning, Roman and the department’s seven other counselors had scheduled virtual meetings via Google Hangouts with every SUA student. Students were asked about their learning environment, how they felt and how their family was doing. Each student was also invited to contact a counselor whenever they felt they needed help—which is exactly what Fletcher did.

“Ms. Roman and I, we connected over Google Hangouts and talked a little bit about that, just because I was like, ‘I don’t even know what to do with my time.’ Afterwards I kind of got a grip on things and I tried to make a semi-class schedule where I would try to do some sort of exercise or get outside or work on studying for my AP exams, and I always try to get in on the [events] the school is offering,” says Fletcher.

Roman says that many students have contacted counselors for help, and that even parents and teachers have contacted the department when they felt students needed some assistance.

But in addition to helping students manage their time and mental health during quarantine, the counseling department also found new ways to support students going through the college process. The school gave students access to a document that was constantly updated with college information, opportunities and webinars, and counselors were just an email away for students with questions. The department also developed a special College Connection Day for graduating seniors to replace the traditional declaration day. The counselors set up virtual meetings with colleges that had SUA students attending in the fall so that the students could meet with others who would be going there as well as an admissions representative so they could learn more about their new school.

Fletcher, who will be attending The Ohio State University in the fall, attended the OSU session and gained valuable information about what her next year will look like.

Events like the College Connection Day, as well as the counseling department’s advice, helped students like Fletcher end their school year on a positive note.

“The counseling department has really helped me. Instead of not knowing what to do and just kind of wasting my days laying around trying to figure out what to do they’ve helped me kind of identify, OK, you can do some of this stuff and have that structure,” she says.