KIDS IN CRISIS: PROACTIVE RESPONSE NEEDED NOW

Student Suicides Drive

Las Vegas Schools to Reopen

Got your attention? Las Vegas schools, like most in the United States, closed to in person classes since March 2020. That’s almost one year out of a child’s learning, which not only encompasses academics but also physical, mental stimulation and social interaction. More importantly, teachers and others in the academic community possess no way to insure the mental health of “virtual” students. In my last blog, I pleaded that local schools would open to in person as soon as humanly possible. Yet the schools here are open with hybrid model, after complete remote learning from Thanksgiving to the second week in January. Interestingly many parochial and private schools never closed. If some did close, it was only for two to three weeks in the name of flattening that foreboding national curve.

So I plead again. Open the schools to full time, in person learning NOW! Southern Colorado, and in particular, local school districts (El Paso and Pueblo counties) experienced more than their share of children committing suicide. According to The Colorado Sun, from 2015 through 2017, 222 Colorado youths died by suicide. A new report by the United Health Foundation states Colorado has the highest increase in teen suicide rate in the U.S. since 2016. Do we need another suicide to justify remote learning is not working?

With remote or even hybrid learning platforms, teachers lost the ability to perceive students in trouble. Have you looked at a remote learning screen? It’s jammed with faces trying to stay afloat in a sea of transmitted information beaming across the frail bandwidths of our communities. I volunteered to help children navigate this new normal. The one thing I took away: no time is built in to check for understanding. The state’s complacency in banning common core during remote learning continues to place our children in dire need of person to person, in the same room, experiences.

I wore my mask, practiced social distancing, schools stayed closed and yet I got Covid 19. I am in a vulnerable age group so I can best say: stop trying to protect people in my age group! Schools must open within the next 30 days for the sake of our youths’ mental health. Parents, students, teachers and admin must be part of the solution and not a part of the problem. A proactive stance is desperately needed by our school districts. Science no longer supports lock downs or school closings. Kids are in crisis.

Paula Baack is a retired teacher of 46 years. Her book “Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!” is the first place winner (Nonfiction/Occupational) in Topshelf’s 2020 Book Award. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Ms. Baack is available for parents and educators Zoom workshops. Contact: rescuetheteacher@yahoo.com.

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