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News: Roane State offers virtual student counseling sessions during COVID-19 pandemic

News: Roane State offers virtual student counseling sessions during COVID-19 pandemic

Staff and students in a Zoom meeting

April 27, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting decision to close Roane State campuses and move to an all-online learning format has resulted in some changes to the service provided by Roane State’s Counseling and Disability Services staff members.

“We’re seeing more anxiety and stress-related issues for students,” said Roane State Dean of Students Lisa Steffensen. “To help support students through this transition, we have been offering Virtual Student Support groups one to two times a week.”

Depending on the date and time, about 20 to 25 students participate, Dr. Steffensen said.

“Transitioning to online classes hasn’t been easy for many of our students,” she said. Some students are still working in jobs where they’re deemed “essential employees” and are balancing their school work with those jobs.

Those students and others are often also trying to teach their own children since schools are out, Steffensen said.

The college’s three student counselors – Jeff Snell (, Tracey Watson (, and Melanie Baak (, are offering virtual/Zoom appointments for the “in person” feel, Steffensen said. The counselors also have phone consultations for both personal counselor and disability services, she said.

Watson said she has been assisting students in getting connected to important online resources, such as online tutoring.

Steffensen said there’s been a slight increase in the number of students needing assistance with accommodations – likely due to the shift to online learning – while counseling numbers remain consistent.

The college added a week to spring break so faculty members could prepare for the transition to online teaching. Campuses remain closed until further notice. “Recognizing that our staff and faculty may be facing similar challenges as our students, we are also offering once or twice weekly virtual staff/faculty support groups, which have about the same attendance level.”

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting

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