Students will be assured of adequate access to school counselors, not only for career guidance but to address trauma and mental health needs during increasingly stressful times, as a result of legislation signed into law Monday.

“Kids make some of the most important, lasting decisions of their lives when they’re in high school, so it’s vital they have access to strong guidance,” said Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah), the bill’s sponsor. “If we want them to make good career choices and successfully navigate life’s stresses and challenges, then we need to make sure counselors are available when kids need them.”

Mullet’s Senate Bill 5030 requires schools to allow guidance counselors to focus at least 80 percent of their work week on their primary duties, rather than fill in for other teachers and staff as is the practice in many schools. The bill still allows administrators the flexibility to assign up to 20 percent of a counselor’s work week on non-counseling tasks to address other school needs.

“A counselor can mean the difference between picking the right school and vocation, or heading down a path that makes little sense for a particular student,” Mullet said. “A counselor can make the difference between managing difficult life challenges or getting chewed up by them.”