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Addressing Student, Family, and Community Educational Needs During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Michael Cappiello, LCSW, is the President of New York State’s NASW Chapter (NASW-NYS) and introduces students to the best online educational platforms for their learning experience. Michael puts his MSW training to use every day across the social work spectrum as NASW-NYS president, a school social worker for the NYC Department of Education, and through his own counseling practice. 

Schools have hit their newest paradigm shift with the unexpected appearance of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many students who relied on structured in-person classes are struggling to adapt those skills to the online learning space. Michael’s social work background explains this predicament through the gold-standard biopsychosocial model. As a frequent user of mental health assessments, Michael places equal emphasis on each part of a student’s life. His student-centered approach moves the conversation away from the child’s psychological symptoms and towards broader explanations for their educational challenges.

Students with complex mental health or physical disabilities are no longer at the mercy of their school district’s location with online platforms. Access to medical specialists, tutors, and off-site resources is one call away. Even students admitted to residential mental health programs stay attuned to their classes through Google services. In the interview, Michael recounts how families view these choices as opportunities to expand their own flexibility. Now that classes can be taken on the road, video calls synchronize sessions between school counselors and community mental health specialists, creating a tighter network of student and family support. 

Michael’s mission is to encourage families to find what platforms, resources, or strategies work best for their personal situations. This fits perfectly into Michael’s goal as a social worker: to individualize resources for families, schools, and the community systems that hold them together.

NASW-NYS plays an active role in training, developing, and supporting the 50,000 social workers who are licensed in the state. In response to the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, the chapter has launched spotlight initiatives on racial justice at every level of social work practice. The NYS chapter also provides content for unlicensed social workers and graduate students seeking to further their careers. Michael and the NASW-NYS are proud to lead the country toward lasting change.     

If you have questions on how to provide the same standard of care in the virtual format as you do when students are in your school, take a look at our school-based courses.

By: Michael Tugendhat, MLitt