Pandemic era behavioral and emotional issues on rise in schools

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CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Many school districts are reporting a spike in behavioral and emotional issues. NEWS10’s Anya Tucker spoke with two Capital Region school leaders about how it’s being addressed and what parents can do to help out if their kids are feeling anxious or are in crisis.

Shenendahowa High School principal Ron Agostinoni recently sent a letter to parents regarding a rise in behavioral issues, including class cutting, vaping, and verbal and physical altercations.

He believes the recent spike is a side effect of the pandemic.

“If you think about it, our 9th graders, their last full year of school was 6th grade. That’s the last year they did not have school interrupted by COVID. That’s ok, we have things to address it. I think that’s contributing to some of the behavior we are seeing,” said Agostinoni.

He’s not alone. Schools and students are not only grappling with gaps in learning, they’re facing social, emotional and behavioral issues on a daily basis.

Anya asked Bruce Potter, superintendent of the Mechanicville City School District, how busy his school counselors are right now. “They are busy to the max,” Potter responded.

He says they are so busy that the district added a few extra positions and they are going to propose adding another counselor position soon. After COVID interrupted our lives and put class on hold, Potter says kids need to “re-learn” what it’s like to be in school.

“It wasn’t like a summer break. Our kids need to really develop the stamina for school. What a full day is like. What a full week is like.”

So, what’s his advice for parents?

“To listen. It’s not about, you know, ‘When I was a kid, you know you just sucked it up and you just pulled yourself up by your boot straps.’ This is an adverse childhood experience no matter how you slice it.”

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