By Greg Argos

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — So far, the virtual school year has had its ups and downs in Philadelphia. But there’s been at least one constant — violence in students’ neighborhoods. Now the Philadelphia School District is making sure students get help during this new normal.

The increase in violence throughout Philadelphia is having a huge impact on many students throughout the city.

“We’re all very well aware of the many tragedies that have affected our students over this past summer,” said Abigail Gray “Many of our schools have had incidents in their communities that have affected their families in one way or another.”

So Gray, the deputy chief for school climate and culture at the Philadelphia School District has had to change how students get help. That is because now there are no in-person meetings.

“We have more mental health support available for students and families than we ever have had in the past. However, those services are being delivered virtually right now,” Gray said.

But not all tragedies make the news and so the district has started a new online policy, a preventative measure meant to engage students and search for red flags.

“A 30-minute daily meeting, a community or morning meeting where the teacher engages in the students in a conversation or activity around what’s going on in their lives or how they’re feeling and that can be a great way to identify kids that might be struggling,” said Gray.

For the first time ever, Gray says the Philadelphia School District has a mental health professional paired with every single school in the city.

That initiative was planned before the pandemic but now with the increase in tragedies, those counselors are being utilized more and more often– virtually, of course.

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