At the start of the new school year, New York City teachers will screen their students for mental health needs, and the city plans to hire about 500 new social workers to help schools address possible trauma and isolation due to the past year’s disrupted learning.

That means all schools will soon have at least one full-time social worker or a school-based mental health clinic, according to the plan. Additionally, 90 school psychologists and 30 family support staff who work with school psychologists will be hired for 270 high-needs schools.

While the city has not yet chosen a screening tool, a press release from the City of New York said school staffers, including teachers, will be looking for “common signs of trauma and distress in students, and helping better plan next steps in providing care.” Parents can opt their children out of the screenings.

Once students are screened, they can be referred to a team of support staff at the school who “can gather more information” and decide what services students should receive, be it a meeting with a social worker or guidance counselor or a visit to the school-based mental health clinic.

The plan builds on a previous announcement by city officials saying they would offer mental health screenings and extra support to 830 schools in the 27 neighborhoods hardest hit by the coronavirus. But with billions of dollars in federal pandemic relief, the city can expand the planned screenings to every school.

The new investments will cost $91 million in the next fiscal year and will be covered by federal relief dollars.

This new initiative comes on the heels of the trauma-informed curriculum promised for the current school year, along with training for teachers, paid for through a partnership with private donors. Those same donors helped New York’s education department launch a mental health training program that pays parents to become “wellness ambassadors” who will eventually help lead sessions for the school community.