As COVID worries fade, mental health issues linger ahead of new school year

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Even as classrooms see COVID-19 restrictions eased ahead of the school year, parents say they still have concerns that include cyberbullying, isolation since the pandemic and fear of school shootings.

Earlier this year, two Poughkeepsie children made threats against the district, which struck fear into many parents and students. It comes after 19 students and two children were killed in Uvalde, Texas in May.

“They were coming up to us, sharing with us that they’re not doing so well,” said Dr Eric Rosser, Poughkeepsie Schools Superintendent.

Rosser received a $2.3 million state grant to expand mental health services to students and their families. He created a panel where students in grades 6-12 can seek help with help from community partners and mental health providers.

Kris Ruby, president of the Ruby Media Group, says schools, police and parents must confront cyberbullying head-on.

“Children use social media as a way to belittle, embarrass and cause psychological harm, he said. “We have seen this result in suicide.”

Dr. Eric Byrne, president of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents, acknowledged that schools are refining their plans to address safety and mental health support from all angles.

“One thing that’s really important for us as schools to know is that every child should have an adult and other students they feel connected to.”

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