Harvey, security willchange new school year
Every school year is a little different from the preceding one, but 2018-19 will be unique because of Tropical Storm Harvey and a renewed focus on campus security. The storm’s effects are still being felt in major ways, and security is no longer a back-burner issue.
Every school district in the region is going to have to face these challenges head-on, with flexibility and vision. Some administrators, teachers and trustees may be tempted to fall back on traditional methods, but business-as-usual won’t work this year. Too many of their students might suffer under that approach.
The Harvey hangover is one challenge that should be obvious but might be overlooked by those who didn’t personally lose homes or business to the waters last August. Yet countless other Southeast Texans were knocked down by this storm, often in devastating ways. For many of them, one year is not enough time to get past that ordeal — especially school-age children who are more vulnerable to disruption.
If students or teachers are still not in their homes, or still dealing with the emotional and financial wreckage of Harvey, a new school year can add one more problem to a full plate. As our story on Thursday reported, the mental health toll of Harvey is real — and ongoing. Countless area residents are seeking counseling — or trying to get by without it — for issues like post-traumatic stress or survivor’s guilt. You can be sure that many of them work in our schools or have kids who attend them.
Some districts are still trying get old buildings repaired or new ones built because of Harvey. That affects daily schedules and budgets.
On top of all this, the tragic shooting at Santa Fe High School last May thrust a new challenge on Texas education. Mass shootings aren’t something that happen in other states any more. They can happen in Texas, in big districts or small ones, in any region from El Paso to Orange.
Five local districts have added teachers who have undergone special training to carry concealed weapons on campus. It’s an understandable response, but one that will require lots of oversight. The last thing these districts want is any problems or accidents with these authorized guns. More districts are also monitoring social media for possible threats, and that means more responsibility for some teacher or administrator.
Some districts have revamped building design and access over the summer to make their campuses safer. Invariably, however, that makes it harder to use those buildings.
In view of these realities, educators and parents must go into the new year with open minds. They will have to adapt as never before, and still focus on the main goal of helping kids learn no matter what gets in the way.
Beaumont ISD is taking a fresh approach this year, even one that’s radical in some ways such considering in-district charter operations for struggling schools. Other districts won’t have to go that far, but they will to consider new ways to function.
Complaining about any of this won’t do any one any good. Dealing with it and overcoming it will.