NC State’s Parents & Families Services held a Facebook Live stream and facilitated a live chat filled with questions from participants at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 26. The session provided information and answered questions about online resources available for students, after the University made all classes virtual and ordered students to vacate campus due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases. 

Director of Parents & Families Services Kerri Fowler led the event, while representatives from Student Health Services, as well as the Counseling Center, gave presentations to attendees. 

Jessica Petterson, the student outreach and engagement coordinator for Student Health Services,  stated COVID-19 testing for students is available at Student Health.

“Testing is currently […] by appointment only, so to call to schedule an appointment for testing, make sure to call us at our main number [919-515-2563],”  Petterson said. “We are not accepting walk-ins at this time.” 

While Petterson spoke on COVID-19 testing, she also answered questions posed by parents  about the process for a student who tests positive, as well as specifics about cases found on campus. 

According to the University Housing website, residents with on-campus assignments that have tested positive for COVID-19, or have come in direct contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, will be asked to self-isolate for at least 14 days. Students can choose to isolate at home or stay in on-campus quarantine housing with no additional housing charges. As for the specifics of on-campus coronavirus cases, the NC State Student Health Center directed parents to the University’s testing and tracking page.

Following Petterson’s presentation, Angel Bowers, associate director for Counseling Center and Prevention Services, discussed the university’s emphasis on helping students beyond academics and focusing on each person as a whole.

“One of the things that’s on our mind at NC State, and is always at the forefront of the work that we do, is a focus on the whole student,” Bowers said. “That includes their mental health, that includes their wellness and their overall well-being, and it certainly includes a focus on prevention, given the different issues that students are facing right now that are unique, that many of them have never faced before.”

The Counseling Center is currently offering many virtual services, including psychoeducational resources, counseling, and drop-in spaces. 

Another department highlighted during the live stream was Prevention Services, which is also offering online resources. Through the department, families and students can reach out with student concern referrals though NC State Cares, whether the student is on campus or off campus. Other resources include suicide prevention training, alcohol and other drug education and prevention and the mental health ambassador program.

The floor was then opened for questions from parents or students in attendance. One attendee asked how students could stay engaged and maintain mental health in a virtual environment.

“From a virtual learning standpoint, some of the things that I would strongly encourage would be for the student to take a really good look at their learning style,” Bowers said. “What's different about being in a classroom and sitting at a dining room table or in your bedroom [...] and encouraging variety.”

In an at-home environment, Bowers described variety as changing up a routine, whether that means switching rooms to study, taking time to exercise or taking a walk in nature to de-stress from academics. She added that engaging with faculty members over Zoom, joining a student organization or going to one of the drop-in spaces through the Counseling Center or Prevention Services can also help students feel connected to campus while at home.

Despite many services and campus events having to shift to a virtual format, Bowers expressed an optimistic view about student interactions with online resources, stating that students who are more socially anxious may find a virtual space more comfortable than in person.

“We noticed that this spring and summer that when we moved online [...] that our drop-in space numbers doubled, so we noticed that more students were accessing those resources online.” Bowers said. “This has been a pretty great thing in a lot of ways. We’ve actually learned a lot from this process and how we can better support our students overall.”

To close the meeting, Fowler thanked the presenters and support staff handling the Facebook livestream behind the scenes. Another Facebook Live meeting through Parents & Families Services will be held Wednesday, Sept. 9 to discuss academic success.

For more information, visit the Student Health Services’ website and the Parents & Families Services’ website.