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is there valid concern for serious violence or mass shootings as schools reconvene?

Jennifer Russon
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By Nigel Walker

As a school administrator and safety supervisor in a public high school, I have been forced to reflect upon the realities of potential concerns as I reviewed our school’s safety protocol with faculty and staff. I have been contemplating the question of whether or not teachers have the energy left in their psyche to entertain the threat of serious violence or either a mass shooting during the clichéd labeled “unprecedented” times amidst a global pandemic. Should we be carving into our extensive COVID-19 health protocols equal attention on active shooter training? Before the obligatory answer, I will start with the specifics of my reflections. I have realized that our society has been forced into significant isolation due to the global pandemic. During these times of isolation, we have witnessed a rise in traumatic events based on health, wealth, and racial tension. It is safe to assume that mental health issues would also become an increased concern in the current atmosphere. Now take into account that we are planning the reintroduction of mass gatherings in the form classroom settings where students have been primed by overly politicized social discontent. Would one be fair in predicting that there lies an increased potential for the threat of serious violence or mass shootings? I would dare to say that dependent upon the radical idealism that may have been picked up by students from parents or familiar adults, one might be stepping in a bit of a powder keg if educators aren’t properly trained on how to deal with our present state of social unrest.

A popular belief is that schools should be reopened to help students seek resources for dealing with mental health issues created during the pandemic, which reinforces the idea that we will have a population of slightly more damaged students gathering in a community setting. So, it would be of poor practical judgment to not have a heightened sense of concern or urgency when it comes to the threat and training for serious violence or active shooters. The reality is that we are living in times of racial, class, and political division that drives irrational emotions from fear to anger and hate. In some cases, the mental state of individuals are compounded by their physiological breakdown due to lack of access to basic human needs, restricted by the pandemic protocols. There you have vulnerable beings, especially those still in their youth, who are struggling to piece it together. The stability that came with the normalcy of school attendance has been disrupted and potentially changed forever. Sadly, students are almost living in a state of dystopia as they would have read about in one of their required novels in a past language arts curriculum. So back to the original question, is there valid concern for serious violence or mass shootings as schools reconvene? Yes. There is actually a heightened sense of concern due to emotional strain of not only living amid a global pandemic, but also the divisive institutions that have reinforced emotions of anger and hate. According to one popular belief, the schools are where the students can find mental refuge, which means that we are inviting the instability into our schools and should therefore respect the potential for serious violence or active shooters.


**Nigel Walker is a Swallow Publishing author. His motivational nonfiction work, S.T.R.I.V.E will be published in February 2021.

Martha Wallace
 Martha Wallace
(@Martha Wallace)
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 1

Unfortunately this is another sign of the times in this year of COVID-19. Some parents want children to return to school for socialization purposes. Most of these kids use social media, face time, ipads and other devices to get face to face interaction with their peers. Are the parents selfishly pushing their darlings back into schools so that the teachers and administrators will regain their role as "baby sitter?" With this volatile environment, we must be cognizant that things are constantly changing in society.Our little darlings are being exposed to so much turmoil, unrest, anger, and bigotry and could possibly act out, or be confronted by someone with some degree of rage or mental ferocity in this place of "mental refuge." Our teachers and administrators are putting themselves in the line of fire just by working face to face in this pandemic. They are potentially endangered as well as all those that they come in touch with, not knowing who is infected, mentally ill, or distraught. We don't want to get comfortable in this state of dis-ease, we don't want to be paranoid either, however there may  be that possibility of instability and violence in schools that the students,  teachers and administrators should not have to deal with. 


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