COVID-19: Help Offered at SMSD

Grace Logan, Staff Writer

     Students and families who need emotional or financial services can receive assistance from programs offered in the Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD). There are many organizations dedicated to the well-being of members in the community. 


SMSD Social Workers:

     Social Worker Melissa Osborn specializes in social and emotional support for students.

     “I want students to know that myself, counselors, social workers and teachers are here for you,” Osborn said. “I don’t want people to be at home struggling, whether they are struggling to pay bills or feeling anxious and depressed because of what is going on in the world.”


Health Partnership Clinic 

     The Health Partnership Clinic is a federally qualified healthcare facility run out of Merriam Park Elementary School that specializes in care for students. 

     “Our primary goal is to provide medical, dental, and behavioral health services to families who otherwise would go without,” Health Services Coordinator Shelby Rebeck said.

     At Merriam, students and younger siblings can receive anything from medication management to sports physicals regardless of socioeconomic status. Health insurance is not required and a sliding fee program is also available for those who qualify. The clinic is currently seeing patients virtually. 


Food Services: 

     The SMSD Food Services Program is an additional resource available to community members. Food services is currently distributing meals at four different locations. Adjustments to this program have been made to ensure the safety of staff and families.  

     “ early April when COVID was still going pretty strong, we made a decision to reduce the number of days that we distribute meals to reduce the potential exposure to staff, parents and children,” Food Services Director Nancy Coughenour said. “We went to distribution on just Mondays and Wednesdays.”

     On Mondays, food services will provide two breakfasts and two lunches that parents can pick up for each child. Three breakfasts and three lunches are provided on Wednesdays. At this point in time, children must be in the car with the adult to receive meals for the week. Meals will be available through July 24th. 


Shawnee Mission Cares Fund:

     The Shawnee Mission Cares Fund is another source accessible for students run by the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation (SMEF). This fund offers emergency financial assistance for families in crisis. 

     “We know sometimes families may have been going along just fine and then a sudden emergency or sudden job loss can change all of that,” SMEF Executive Director Kimberly Hinkle said. ”We want to be able to help those families very quickly.”  

     After receiving emergency assistance from this fund, members working for the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation can connect families to long-term support.  

     “ is to keep our families and our students in school and learning,” Rebeck said. “We don’t want our students to have the weight of adult problems on their shoulders.”