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  • Health Department receives $6.8M to support schools and students coping with pandemic trauma

    Nov 16, 2021 | Read More News
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    The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on Nov. 16 to accept a $6.8 million grant that will support K-12 students and their families. The grant runs through May 2022. 

    The Pima County Health Department will lead a coordinated effort to ensure that students, families, and staff of K-12 schools have the tools and resources they need to minimize the negative effects of COVID-19.

    “We want this school year to continue with students in schools, safe and healthy,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, Health Department director.

    “The situation in schools is very complicated as children under 12 just recently became eligible to get vaccinated. When an exposure occurs, it means students get sent home, missing out on valuable classroom time and social engagement; it means parents taking time off work; it means teachers trying to create at-home learning packets for up to 10 days.

    "This grant will help students and their families get much-needed support so they can stay engaged with school.”

    The grant will also allow the Health Department and community partners to connect students with behavioral health services. While most COVID-19 deaths have occurred among older adults, some children have lost their parent(s) or primary/secondary caregiver(s) to the disease. Many children in Pima County schools live in multi-generational households, increasing the risk of experiencing the loss of a loved adult in their life.

    “COVID’s toll is much more than physical,” Cullen said. “It stretches into every part of our lives and our well-being. And it is the same for children. Being able to support wrap-around services, such as providing referrals for youth who may benefit from behavioral health services, will help promote their emotional healing.”

    In addition to behavioral health connections, funding will enable the Health Department to undertake a range of initiatives that will:

    • address the ongoing need for prevention, education, and mitigation of COVID-19 in school communities,
    • provide necessary resources and support K-12 students and their household members who test positive for COVID-19 to ensure a timely return to class,
    • allow for case investigation and contact tracing for students who test positive for COVID-19 and their contacts.

    PCHD is starting a task force, which will include schools and behavioral health providers, to discuss ways to streamline the referral process and make services more accessible.