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Superior District introduces in-class tool to support students undergoing mental health crisis

Daily Telegram - 12/13/2019

Dec. 13--The Superior School District is expanding its emergency preparedness. Teachers and staff will soon have a new tool for supporting students experiencing a mental health crisis. The resource, a sheet of information which identifies signs of a mental health crisis, suicide risk factors, warning signs for suicide and steps staff can take when they see the signs, will soon be posted in Superior classrooms.

"We put a lot of emphasis on emergency procedures for evacuations, fire drills, active shooters. And the likelihood those things will happen are really low," District Administrator Amy Starzecki told School Board members at the Dec. 9 board meeting. "However, something our teachers face I would say daily in some of our classrooms and weekly in some of our classrooms is students experiencing a mental health crisis."

The new tool looks very similar to class resources that outline emergency procedures for evacuations and lockdowns.

"Our hope is it goes right next to that poster," Starzecki said.

Guidance counselors and school psychologists have been working on the new resource poster since spring. It fills a need.

"One of the things teachers are asking for is 'How do we better support students?' 'What are some of the actions we can take?,'" Starzecki said. "It can't all fall on the shoulders of our guidance counselors."

Board members appreciated the focus on student mental health needs, as well as the conversation starters that will be included in the information.

Starzecki said the resource will be shared with teachers and staff at meetings over the next few months before being implemented. Based on feedback, some tweaks may be made. She also planned to speak this month with the Superior High School student council about putting together a list of mental health crisis resources, both local and national, they can share with peers.

In other action Dec. 9

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The Superior School Board approved a 2020-21 academic calendar that will build in four potential snow days. The current school year has three days built in, made possible by adding minutes to the school day. According to the calendar, the 2020-21 school year will begin before Labor Day on Sept. 1. Christmas break will run from Dec. 24-Jan. 1 and spring break will take place March 15-19. The last day of classes would be June 4.

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The board voted to add 20 new courses at Superior High School, including English courses like public speaking and literary arts: from graphic novel to film, 11 new special education courses and a three-course construction academy partnership with Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College. No additional personnel would be needed, and only five of the courses have any material costs.

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(c)2019 the Superior Telegram (Superior, Wis.)

Visit the Superior Telegram (Superior, Wis.) at www.superiortelegram.com

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