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Barberton Schools dedicating school day to mental health education

Barberton High School
Posted at 4:55 PM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-05 11:25:13-05

BARBERTON, Ohio — It’s been a tough year for students as they deal with not only major changes in school, but also stress stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, racial unrest across the country, and the 2020 election.

Barberton School District is dedicating a day away from schoolwork so they can focus on their mental health.

Melanie Vance’s daughter Victoria and son Lincoln go to Barberton High School. Victoria is a senior learning remotely and Lincoln is a freshman who goes to classes in-person five days a week, but they have much more on their minds than just schoolwork.

“They're both very concerned about the pandemic,” Vance said. “I work at the hospital. I’m a local bartender. So, it affects our lives every day.”

Vance said, like many other teenagers, it's not always easy getting them to open up.

“Mine are very introverted so you don't really, you can't see what they're feeling on the outside,” Vance said.

That’s why she’s thrilled Barberton Schools announced its pausing normal classes next Friday, so students can stay home and learn how to cope with their stress and anxiety through remote sessions with mental health experts.

“I love that they're doing a personal day. I just love it,” Vance said. I've always been a big fan of that. I've always let my kids have a personal day every quarter. I think it's really important. Just some days you're just not feeling it.”

“From the pandemic, from the election, from the racial unrest - I mean there's just a lot going on right now,” Jeff Ramnytz the superintendent of the Barberton School District, said.

Ramnytz said after speaking with parents, students, and staff members about rising stress levels, he and other administrators came up with the idea and enlisted the services of four, local mental health organizations.

“I can't see everybody's faces, but I can see their eyes, and I've been doing this for 31 years and I have an idea when, when the staff is getting to a point or when the students are getting to that point,” Ramnytz said.

In addition to students, staff members will also receive training on how to better support themselves and students.

“We're hoping even the parents log on with them,” Ramnytz said.

“I hope that most families take advantage of it,” Crystal Allen, mom to a kindergartner, second grader, and sophomore in the district, said.

She applauded the district for considering students’ needs beyond the classroom.

“Always my concern is for all the kids, and are they getting that feedback at home, you know, the opportunity to express their concerns for their day. I assume most of them are, but as you know, we don't live in a perfect world so not everyone gets that,” Allen said.

“I think the school really does take into account how the kids are feeling about all situations that they're put into as the year goes on so I think it's a great plan,” Allen said.

Ramnytz said the district will continue to offer mental health education opportunities for students and staff throughout the year and will consider planning another mental health day in the future if stress levels start to rise again.

RELATED: Barberton City School District dedicates school day to mental health education for students, staff

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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