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DES MOINES, Iowa — With in-person classes starting this week, the Des Moines Public School District is working to reconnect with students who struggled with mental health issues while taking virtual classes last school year.

Counselor at Lincoln High School, Julia Minnahan, said while more students admitted to struggling with mental health issues last year, Lincoln had fewer students asking for help.

“We saw a lot more students that were expressing being lonely, being sad, not even necessarily expressing anything,” Minnahan said. “We saw a lot of students who would shut down and not want to talk. We saw a lot of students that we couldn’t get a hold of.” 

Last year around 60% of DMPS students were taking online classes. Now that most are back to walking the halls, Minnahan said counselors are taking this first week of school to reintroduce themselves to students.

In the following weeks, counselors will organize wellness and academic planning sessions with DMPS kids to ensure students have a game plan for a successful school year. 

According to Minnahan, another goal of the district is to get more students involved in extracurricular activities. 

“We’re doing a lot of things to get students to be more involved in clubs, to be more involved in sports activities. Something so that they feel that connection with each others, they feel a connection with the school” Minnahan said. “Research has shown that it is huge for a positive impact on their mental health.”