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Local teachers say behavioral issues in students seen statewide since pandemic began

The 2021-2022 school year so far has revealed a variety of concerning behavioral issues in students, from an increase in fights to allegations of sexual harassm
Updated: Jan. 7, 2022 at 8:58 AM PST
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - The 2021-2022 school year so far has revealed a variety of concerning behavioral issues in students, from an increase in fights to allegations of sexual harassment, with teachers and staff scrambling to find solutions.

“What I’ve seen, day in and day out, is teachers giving their absolute best. I see them exhausted and I see them continuing to show up each day,” said Chris Moore, Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Coordinator for the Salem-Keizer School District.

Moore believes social isolation during distance learning last school year altered students’ conception of what school is and what their roles and responsibilities are.

“All of a sudden you have kids all around you and routines that you’re not familiar with and classes that are 60-90 minutes long when you’ve only done things on the same timetable as TikTok for 18 months, it’s just hard to manage,” said Moore.

That’s played out in different ways at different schools.

In November, a student-led walkout over allegations of sexual assault ended in a series of fights outside Roseway Heights Middle School in Portland.

At Reynolds Middle School, students moved to distance learning for more than two weeks to address problems with frequent student fights and other disruptive behavior.

“During that time, we had listening sessions with parents, we conducted social emotional learning material sessions with teachers and administrators, and we looked at safety protocols and made some changes,” said Steve Padilla, a spokesperson for the Reynolds School District.

When students returned in mid-December, they were no longer allowed to use their cell phones during school hours. Additionally, only two students are allowed in the bathroom at a time. In hallways in between classes, students are required to carry their iPads and binders in their arms.

“What that does is that keeps their arms busy and it keeps their arms focused. They’re not shoving other kids. They’re not bumping into other kids,” said Padilla.

The policy changes have resulted in fewer fights at the school, fewer classroom disruptions, and fewer incidents of vandalism.