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After years of violence, US schools try to relieve tensions | State News

San Francisco (AP) — The first week of school was to show that after more than a year of distance learning, he returned to the classroom at Everett Middle School in San Francisco with a win.

But when computer science teacher Yesi Castro-Mitchell welcomed her sixth grade class last fall, students began beating her over and over again.

Castro Mitchell wrapped his arm around his head and wanted the batter to stop. She remembers her stunned silence in her classroom when other students witnessed the assault. The teacher suffered from concussion, dislocation of the jaw, missing teeth, and deafness in the left ear, and needed a hearing aid.

Throughout the United States, one of the most difficult grades in the United States was also one of the most violent years. Experts tracking school behavior across the country said fighting, including shooting, and other offensive behavior seemed to be on the rise. Now, as students go out during the summer vacation, the school is looking at what went wrong and how to fix it.

At Everett, many of this year’s problems were the same as before the pandemic, but “the severity, intensity, and frequency were very high,” said Chris Garza, Everett’s eight-year teacher and teachers union representative. increase.

In addition to the attacks on teachers, there were almost daily battles between students, according to several teachers and parents. In one brawl, the student was hospitalized for at least two days. In other cases, swarms of students broke into the classroom, disrupting lessons and sometimes destroying school property.

Educators and psychologists say school instability as pandemics cause a surge in student mental health problems, trauma at home, lack of social opportunities, and a shortage of teachers and counselors who have reduced adult supervision and guidance. It is said that it contributed to.

There are no national data to track school battles and assaults, but education authorities across the country say violence occurred more frequently and more violently.

Sharon Huber, co-director of the National School of Mental Health Center at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said: ..

The same problem is likely to surface again in the fall, she said, if the struggling adolescents do not get the help and structure they need.

Everett students were keenly aware of the pandemic influence. About 70% of the 600 students in the school are Latin, many are learners of English, and most are financially disadvantaged. According to school social worker Bridget Early, many lost their parents and grandparents on COVID-19, or lost their homes because their families couldn’t pay the rent.

Castro Mitchell said no one warned her that her attackers had a history of behavioral problems. After the assault, her teacher transferred to another school, but she was suffering from PTSD and she dropped out by the end of the year.

Some of Everett’s staff complained that the pandemic rules aimed at improving air circulation had the unintended effect of inducing fraud. The teacher was unable to close or lock the classroom door. A group of students who skipped a class walked around the hall and rushed into another class during the session.

According to reports from members of the National Association of School Resources Officers, the school campus had more weapons and more assaults and first fights across the country, said MoCanady, managing director of the group. ..

The Clark County School District in Las Vegas, one of the largest in the country, has announced that it will provide teachers with a panic button after increased violence, including an April attack on unconscious teachers in the classroom. District police chief Mike Blackeye said the 2021-22 grades were the busiest in his undergraduate 40-year history.

Hoover said that when the pandemic broke out, especially young people lost their living structure. They were cut off from school and isolated from their peers.

Many schools are trying to address the root cause.

When the students returned to Savannah High School in Anaheim, California, it was a “post-fight battle,” said school chief counselor Penny Hutches. The school hired a restorative justice expert. They want more balance with discipline next year, but emphasize mediation over punishment. In October, I used a grant to open a “relaxation room” where I was able to talk with a mental health counselor.

“We opened it up, and we saw a huge reduction in fighting and discipline issues. It was day and night,” Hutches said. The school also held support groups for students who suffered losses, LGBTQ + students, and more. Sometimes it was held several times a day.

Clara Oliver, a freshman in the savanna, finds it difficult to have a direct conversation with her classmates, suffering from intensifying anxiety when she returns directly to school. For her, her relaxation room has become a shelter. Eventually, conversations with people became easier.

“The room will give us a break from everything,” she said. “When we were stressed about school, we just went to that room. There were people to talk to, snacks, fidgeting toys and card games. Relax and class. I was able to go back and continue the day. “

According to Early, at Everett, school officials will try a “January reset”, a new strategy for attracting students, making lessons more enjoyable and more social and emotional work with children. We made an effort.

But they couldn’t pull it off. As in other places, the omicron-led surge of coronavirus set aside educators and deepened the danger of staffing in schools where security guards and agents were already in short supply.

“In a year when mental health became more important than ever,” Early said, spending most of his time “putting out the fire.” She frequently represented her.

Parents were concerned about the safety of their children and advised them to avoid the danger zone.

“My son usually didn’t use the bathroom. He would wait until the end of school,” he said. She was a 7th grade mother and had no science teacher, music teacher, or PE teacher for months.

Principal Esther Fensel resigned at the end of the school year and did not respond to the interview request.

Laura Dadnick, a spokesman for the San Francisco Unified School District, said Everett, like many other schools, suffers from increased mental health challenges and staff shortages for her students.

During the year, she said the district hired additional security guards, increased the coverage of surrogate, and demanded that students lock their cell phones during class.

Next year, according to Early, the school will open a subsidized wellness center with on-site therapists and other staff to focus on the social and emotional needs of students.

“All children, especially those experiencing trauma, need consistency and stability. We couldn’t provide them all year long.”


The Associated Press education team is supported by the Carnegie Foundation in New York. AP is solely responsible for all content.

After years of violence, US schools try to relieve tensions | State News

Source link After years of violence, US schools try to relieve tensions | State News

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