Dayton Unit NAACP & school members answer back to school concerns

Local News

"We have to make sure our students' health comes first."

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN)– The 2020 school year is starting to kick off, but not without the help of several community groups.

“COVID-19 has come up on the hills of a tornado, a mass shooting and protests for social justice, and as we consider the impact these experiences are having, we must have a larger conversation around mental health,” said Dayton Unit NAACP Education Chair Lauretta Williams.

The Dayton Unit NAACP and several superintendents and principals held a public forum Monday night to give concerned families the chance to hear first hand what to expect in this school year.

“Until we can make a decision that it will be safe to participate in extracurriculars, then we’re just going to try to remain safe like all my colleagues are doing,” said Superintendent of Jefferson Township Local Schools Dr. Richard Gates.

Huber Heights City Schools Superintendent Mario Basora plans to keep kids connected at all costs and shared concerns about the at-risk kids, making sure they’re not forgotten about at home.

“I’ve heard lots of stories of kids with suicidal ideation and having major mental health issues,” said Basora. “If we don’t get kids back in school and support them through sports, extracurriculars or in person learning, we’re going to have a major mental health issue on our hands with our students.”

Parents also voiced their concerns about getting their kid to focus on academics rather than thinking of the pandemic. Fortunately, Dayton Public Schools has a plan.

“We’ve been able to hire 26 student resilience coordinators who will work with each of our teams at our buildings on student mental behavioral health.,” said Superintendent of Dayton Public Schools Dr. Elizabeth Lolli. “We didn’t want to call it a Behavioral Mental Health Specialist because we wanted to call it something that gave hope and positivity to the position.”

The topic of how students with disabilities will return to classes came into question, and Basora said he plans to bring them all into class this Thursday as long as the environment stays safe. Huber Heights City Schools will take extra precautionary measures, including everyone wearing masks or face-shields, deep sanitations each day and proper social distancing to the staff’s best ability.

Overall, the Dayton Unit NAACP says everyone must come together to make the return to school possible. Teachers, staff members, parents and students must be on the same page to be successful.

“We are not the enemy to each other,” said Jefferson Township Local Schools Principal Dr. Monica Woods. “I know this is a very tense time for all, but we are only going to get through this together.”

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