Friday, January 21, 2022


Despite a failed attempt in the U.S. Senate, more than 200 business owners call for federal reforms to strengthen election laws, and the U.S. Supreme Court deals another blow to abortion providers.


President Biden gets cheers and jeers as he marks his first year in the White House, the Jan. 6 committee wants to hear from Ivanka Trump, and the Supreme Court rejects another challenge to the Texas abortion law.


Expanded broadband akin to electrification in rural America 80 years ago; small Wyoming grocery store survives monopolization; revitalized Kansas town gets national recognition; and Montana's Native communities look for voter suppression work-arounds.

Amid Threats, School Social Workers Help Foster Welcoming Environments


Thursday, January 13, 2022   

This week saw a Duluth high school go on lockdown because of a threat received by authorities. School social workers across Minnesota say with campus safety still a big priority, they're carrying out approaches to make their environments less ominous and more welcoming.

The latest threat follows last month's nationwide social media scare on TikTok, as well as a deadly school shooting in Michigan.

Sarah Mages - licensed social worker at the St. Peter Middle School - said students have increasingly dealt with more anxiety over the past couple of decades, with threats of violence playing a part.

She said emotional connections between staff and students are important.

"We've just found that if there's that connection," said Mages, "kids are able and willing to talk to those adults because they feel like they're cared for."

Her district has conducted surveys with high-school students and fifth-grade students, asking if they feel supported by at least one adult in their building. In both surveys, three quarters of students said they do.

Social workers in other districts say home visits and crisis-intervention teams are also helpful approaches that complement standard security measures.

Prior Lake High School Licensed Social Worker Nancy VanHorne said social media messages often blend the outside world with campus environments.

If those scenarios make a student not want to come to school, her staff might visit them at home to make them feel reassured or accompany them on campus.

"You know, I had a student come in before students got here one morning," said VanHorne, "and we kind of walked the building and we talked through some anxieties she was having."

Kathy Kimani is the director of the Office of School Support for Saint Paul Public Schools. She said de-escalation efforts are important when trouble arises.

But she said there are other important ways to foster a safe environment, including social and emotional learning.

"We might do things like implement some restorative practices," said Kimani, "which would start off as students actually sitting in a circle, building community, getting to know one another. "

All three of these professionals, members of the Minnesota School Social Workers Association, said the pandemic has added to the anxiety students are feeling.

Disclosure: Minnesota School Social Workers Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues, Education, Mental Health. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

get more stories like this via email
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018 to fill the seat previously held by Republican Jeff Flake. (Flickr)

Social Issues

A wave of new Arizona voters in the 2020 election changed the normally conservative state to one where progressive candidates and ideas have a fightin…


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to use federal funds for a project to help keep invasive carp out of the Great Lakes. It is proposing using …

Social Issues

Healthcare workers at an Oregon hospital have achieved what they say is a "win" after several strikes in recent months. Nearly 300 workers and …

Pennsylvania has over 300 million square feet of big-box building rooftops, which new research suggests could provide almost half the electricity that these buildings consume if they were outfitted with solar panels. (Adobe Stock)


As Pennsylvania continues to grow its solar-energy capacity, a new report found the roofs of big-box stores present a big opportunity to increase …

Social Issues

If Iowa wants to create healthier outcomes for its residents, advocates say there are steps policymakers can take right now to make it happen…

Over the course of the pandemic, North Dakota has received more than $350 million in federal aid to help struggling renters, but says it has sent back roughly 40% of that money unspent. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

North Dakota has returned a significant portion of the rental assistance provided by the federal government in the pandemic, but groups working …

Social Issues

After a defeat on Wednesday, Democrats in the U.S. Senate say they'll keep trying to pass voting-rights legislation, and one Wisconsin group wants …

Social Issues

Bridgeport is one of six U.S. cities selected for an 18-month project kicking off this month, to create more education and career opportunities for …


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021