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School staff broadcast to help kids during time of coronavirus

HOUGHTON — At about the time they’d normally be hearing morning announcements, local students will be able to listen to stories and advice from school staff.

A new series of short broadcasts from school administrators, teachers, counselors and mental health personnel with the district launches Monday on WOLV-FM.

The broadcasts will happen 8:40 a.m. Monday through Friday. Recordings will also be posted online at thewolf.com.

Micah Stipech, counselor at Houghton Elementary School, was inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt’s “fireside chats” during the Depression, as well as a recent press conference where Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg answered children’s questions about the coronavirus.

“Just that concept of speaking directly to kids, even if it’s our small area, seemed like a good idea,” he said.

The 20-minute programs will start with a four- to seven-minute story. The stories will be geared to elementary- to middle-school students, said Natalie Morgan, a mental health professional with the Copper Country Intermediate School District.

After that, staff will answer questions from students about any anxieties or worries they might have. Students can email questions to kids@copperisd.org.

“We’re just super-excited and we’ve had a great response from the districts that we’ve reached out to,” Morgan said. “We’re excited to see this get off the ground and excited to see the questions students have and interact with them in a way.”

Stipech said the program will include a combination of CCISD staff and social workers, as well as teachers, principals and school counselors from across the ISD.

“We’re trying to incorporate people from all the schools in the intermediate school district if possible, so people can hear a familiar voice of their teacher or principal,” he said.

They plan to continue the program through June 10 — what would have been the students’ last day, Morgan said.

Stipech said he hopes the program can speak directly to children and give them a message of resilience.

“It’s so easy to get caught up in hearing the latest update on the news that will give you anxiety,” he said. “And maybe it will also help their parents, serve as a role model of things you can talk about with children, or just that what we say to them and what they hear matters.”

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