WAVERLY — Taking action following a recent student survey, Waverly Schools Superintendent Eric Knolles and Director of Curriculum and Instruction Liz McIntosh outlined steps that district staff plans to take to alleviate concerns brought by students.

According to the survey, approximately 35 percent of the students at the district do not feel safe at school, said Knolles.

“This survey dives deep and asks direct questions,” he explained. “This isn’t ‘safe’ in the sense that the kids feel like they’re going to get punched or that there’s going to be intruder. It’s not that kind of ‘safe.’

“This is more verbal or emotional,” Knolles continued. “Kids feel unsafe in that they think they’ll get made fun of for getting a question wrong, or teased or laughed at.”

Knolles said if students do not feel safe, it can affect them negatively in many aspects such as absenteeism, which is a chronic problem at the district that was also highlighted in the plan.

“Our goal is to decrease our rate of chronic absenteeism, which is the amount of students who miss 20 days or more in a school year, from 24 percent to 18 percent by next year,” McIntosh said. “Because, obviously, kids can’t perform well if they’re not in school.”

Officials stated that the district will try to accomplish those goals by increasing communication with parents and offering adult “mentors” to students.

“Every kid should have an adult in the school that they trust and can go to if they have a problem,” Knolles said. “Because it doesn’t matter as much that the kids are actually physically safe if they don’t feel safe at school. They’re not going to come to school if they don’t feel safe.

“I know some people were a little shocked when they saw how our kids felt, but that’s the reality of the situation. They kept it real with us,” the superintendent continued. “It all comes back around to them, and we have a lot of work to do.”

Johnny Williams can be reached at (570) 888-9643 ext. 232 or jwilliams@morning-times.com. Follow Johnny Williams on Twitter @johnnywMT

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