Eric Witherspoon and Marcus Campbell.

“Mindfulness Mondays” may sound like a giveaway contest on a radio station. You know, “We’ll take the fifth caller here on Mindfulness Monday.”

But at Evanston Township High School, “Mindfulness Mondays” are a way to help students and staff cope with stress from the coronavirus pandemic, ranging from fears about getting sick, to zoom fatigue from online learning.

ETHS is on remote learning due to the pandemic, and is likely to stay that way through the remainder of the semester, and perhaps into next year as well.

In today’s edition of “Etown Live,” District 202 Superintendent Eric Witherspoon and ETHS Principal Marcus Campbell explained the mindfulness program, which uses a series of videos that can be accessed via a link on the ETHS website.

There are videos encouraging how to reduce stress by certain ways to breathe. There are also instructions on meditation, dance and other forms of relaxation.

“These days it’s not an option, it’s a necessity” to find ways to calm down, Campbell said. On a recent Monday, Campbell noted there were 400 visits to the site in a 24 hour period.

Witherspoon praised students and staff for how they are handling the new academic reality. “While remote learning is different,” he said, “it doesn’t mean it is substandard.”

Witherspoon cited a number of virtual events in the first month of school, including extra help opportunities for students, the career pathways series and a financial aid night for those considering college. The first virtual edition of the Evanstonian student newspaper is now online as well.

“We’re proving we can do things in a virtual way and in a quality way,” he said.

The superintendent also gave a “special shoutout” to the ETHS boosters, who were able to raise $70,000 for extracurricular activities with a virtual Boosterpalooza.

Despite the challenges of e-learning, ETHS students are showing up, or rather, logging in. Last year, when school began in person, District 202 has told Evanston Now that attendance on the first day was 99 percent. This year, on Day One, it was 97 per cent (incorporating changes in attendance records due to e-learning schedules). Pretty much the same.

“We are reinventing school,” Campbell said on Etown Live, but it’s not going to be easy. “This is a long haul,” the principal stated. “ETHS has cleared a lot of hurdles, but we still have a lot of them to go.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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