Parents address student meltdowns at SSUSD board meeting

Parents address student meltdowns at SSUSD board meetingBy LAURA QUEZADA

News Review Staff Writer

Tammy Jones a grandmother with children attending Seirra Sands Unified School District addressed the school board at the February 18 meeting. “I felt I must do this when my grandson had a major meltdown over the online teaching method. I personally watched him struggle every day with this assinine method of teaching. I have also been told by other parents and grandparents that their children had meltdowns and have just checked out with this learning method.” Jones’ primary concern is “the high suicide rate of this pandemic which has exacerbated mental health issues among the age cohort already vulnerable.” She continues, “According to the Center for Disease Control, CDC data, suicide is the 2nd leading cause among young people between the ages of 10 – 24. The effects of isolation are heightening this trend. The closure of schools and other activities such as sports, clubs, etc. that students usually have as part of their lives increases the rate of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts for people of this age group.”

Jones provided an example of a school district taking action, “A substantial uptick in student suicides has prompted the nation’s 5th largest school district to bring students back into the classroom despite the number of Chinese virus cases. I am speaking of the Clark County School District which serves Las Vegas and surrounding cities in Nevada. There has been 18 suicides amongst its student body between March and December last year. That number is two times the amount reported in all of 2019.”

Jones also provided statistics about survival rates during the pandemic, “The survival rate for the Chinese virus as per CDC is as follows. 0-19 years, 99.997%;20-49, 99.98%, 50-69 99.5% and 70+ 94.6% as well as we know this virus is not easily transmitted by children. "Suicide, on the other hand has 0% survival rate." Jones concludes by asking the school board to take action. “If one child fails in this district, then we have all failed. American school boards should be ashamed of themselves for not having a backbone with teachers’ unions and other government officials. These groups will continue to rule the classroom with policies and curriculum as long as we allow it. We are doing an injustice to our most precious resource, our children. It is disgusting to watch and should be criminal. You are putting the interests of government and unions over our children and families.”

Jessica Fine introduced herself by saying, “I am a wife and a mother and a mental health professional. I currently work with children and their families under the College Community Services Mental Health facility.”

Fine stressed, “Children of this valley need to get back to the sense of normalcy and that needs to be in the school setting... There must be a way that people can come together on a common ground and put the children first. That includes the board and the teachers’ union. I know from first hand that children are suffering and falling further and further behind. Through my job and as the mother of a junior high student, I have seen the effects of isolation and distance learning. Distance learning and socializing of these children have caused children to have symptoms of depression, anxiety and other behavioral problems that would not be present if not for this pandemic. I have seen children who succeeded in school in the past, who get A’s, that are confident in their school academics drop to complete F’s. I have witnessed children get up and say, ’Why should I do school? I don’t even understand what they are trying to teach me over this stupid computer.’ I have seen happy children wonder what they are living for without being able to reach out to a friend, a teacher, or even just getting away from a toxic home situation. I see this on a daily basis in my job.”

As a parent, Fine tells us, “As of Tuesday this week my husband and I made a very difficult decision to pull our son from Sierra Sands School District and put him in St. Ann’s where he is now thriving and he comes home every day with a smile on his face instead of tears from last week.”

Fine emphasized that she has utmost respect for teachers, having taught for a year at Burroughs. She concludes, “I want to add that I am not a professional when it comes to the ins and outs of the school board, administration, or the teachers’ union, but I do know, in terms of mental health of these children, I am a professional of that. I urge the board members and the teachers union to find a way to return these and all children back to the classroom where they can thrive and begin to have a sense of normalcy and proper education. There has to be a way, there must be a way. Let’s make the changes needed. Let’s sacrifice what we must and let’s get these children back in the classroom.”

Story First Published: 2021-02-26