PALS Press

March/April 2020

A Spring Semester Like No Other

Hi, everyone!

First, we all hope you are all safe and healthy, and are able to spend time with your families without too much worry. We also hope your students and school communities are doing well, despite COVID 19. While we usually use the PALS Press as a way to celebrate accomplishments around the District, we want to use this edition as a platform to help everyone navigate this time with PALS, and to remind you all that we are a community of support and caring, and we're here for you and your students.

Remember to reach out if you need ANYTHING. This is a start-up kit, and we hope we can offer more resources for you as time goes by.

Best wishes,

Your PALS Support Family

What Can We Do With PALS?

Meetings and Projects

Meeting Using Zoom

Several teachers and counselors have started meeting with their PALS using Zoom. If you haven't already, make sure you open an account using your e-mail. At least for now, if you have an academic account, the 40-minute meeting cap is waived and you can meet with your class for as long as you like.

Feedback regarding Zoom meetings for classes has been very positive. Students have genuinely missed one another, and have been eager to feel the support of their PALS communities--particularly in high school, where students are feeling anxious about everything from class rank to prom to their families' health.

What Can PALS Do Right Now?

If you haven't already, try asking your PALS! Padlet is a great medium to collect student thoughts and get a read on how they're feeling.

While in-person mentoring is off the table, telementoring is not. Some PALS are making YouTube videos (logging into YouTube from their AISD student accounts and making the sharing setting "anyone at AISD with this link"). They share the links with their PALS teacher, who puts the links for their class into a google doc for each counselor s/he works with, and shares it so that the counselor can pass the links along to the appropriate student and family.

Some PALS are working on a YouTube channel where high school students are creating videos of themselves leading mindfulness activities, reading children's books, and doing crafts, and making the channel private.

Other folks are considering organizing their PALS classes to reach out to every student in the school via school e-mail, just to say hello and that they're hoping that everything is OK. Students can divide the rosters from each grade, and just submit to you a screenshot of their "sent" folder to confirm that they did their part. ***A VERY IMPORTANT REMINDER: All student-to-student e-mails should be sent from and to students' AISD e-mail accounts, and should cc PALS teachers and/or counselors so that no content can be misconstrued and so that students remember to be their best selves in communication. :) No texting or direct phone calls between mentors and mentees, please.***

There's a need for cloth masks right now, and students with sewing abilities can make and donate them. Here's a link to a pattern from the CDC.

How are the elders in your neighborhoods doing? With senior living centers on lockdown to prevent virus spreading, many older folks in our community are left feeling lonely. Sending a batch of letters or postcards, even if they aren't specifically addressed, to a local nursing home or assisted living facility would brighten many peoples' days, and may win your PALS snail-mail pen pals.

Are there ways to celebrate neighbors who are working in the face of illness? Can your PALS recognize individuals in their communities who are working delivering food, at supermarkets, as nurses, and as doctors?

I hope these ideas spark more in you, or at least get you started as you embark on wrapping up the semester knowing that you may not see your PALS again in person before the end of the year. As always, please share any and all revelations so that we can spread the great idea wealth around!

What About Grades?

If you have a PALS class, you need to offer students some grades. Two or three grades a week for attending a Zoom meeting and completing a service project or communication with their mentee should suffice.

If you have questions about grades, please don't hesitate to reach out to anyone on the PALS support team. :)


PALS is a cross-age peer mentoring program founded at Crockett High School in Austin, Texas in 1980. PALS support K-12 students at all levels of their education, and are at work at more than 60 campuses across Austin ISD.