Jeff Davis County schools focusing on safety, mental health

Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 12:12 PM EDT
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JEFF DAVIS, Ga. (WTOC) - Teachers in the Jeff Davis County School System are busy putting their final touches on their classrooms ahead of the start of school.

Superintendent Chris Roppe says while most things will look just as they did last year, they have an even stronger focus on safety and mental health for the 2022-2023 school year.

“We are very adamant that we want our kids at school. We want those connections and those relationships built,” Roppe said.

Roppe said they’re going into this new year like they did in pre-pandemic times with minimal COVID-19 protocols in place and, hopefully, 180 days of face-to-face instruction.

“Last year was a big focus on trying to regain some of that time back instructionally with our students. This year with things being a little calmer when it comes to the pandemic, at this point, we’re very excited,” Roppe said.

With that said, Roppe explains they haven’t eased up on safety.

“When your child arrives, we are going to have their safety in mind.”

In fact, Roppe says students can expect to see new school resource officers at their school.

“We are anticipating, maybe, two more additional SROs this year. We do feel that SROs are very vital to our school safety and the protection of our staff and students,” Roppe said.

Students will also have additional active shooter drills this year. Roppe said they plan to do so without overly alarming the students.

“We’re going to try to do everything humanly possible to make sure nothing happens.”

Roppe said for the first time, the district has hired an in-house mental health counselor. He says this person will be a good resource for parents and families who would otherwise have to travel to get these services.

“Your rural districts just are having a hard time with that just because the lack of providers in the area.”

Before the bell rings next week, Roppe asks that all high school parents fill out a meal application form.

This form is to make sure that your student can continue to get free or reduced lunch at school. During the pandemic breakfast and lunch was provided with help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but Roppe said they will not be getting that help this year.

“We ask that all parents fill out the form even if they feel they wouldn’t qualify.”

The school district will be holding an open house for each grade level. Make sure to check on your specific school’s social media site for that schedule. Those will be held on Aug. 4.

The first day of school is Aug. 5.

*(Jeff Davis County School System)

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