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After the Parkland, FL mass school shooting, many teachers across the country have been dealing with increased stress and anxiety.

Local teachers tell Western Mass News it’s become a scary reality to walk into school and not know what might happen that day.

History teacher, James Gee, works at Springfield Central High School.

“Watching the Parkland event definitely made me cautious of what’s happening today with our kids and know it could happen anywhere,” Gee said.

In recent days, we saw a number of our own local school threats in Western Mass, including in Granby and Palmer schools.

“I think over the years of me teaching there’s been a change in culture; copycat culture with social media. And they need to be addressed.”

He says everyday he feels this added pressure to keep his students safe.

“I think as a teacher you deal with students and they almost become your own, so personally, my first instinct would be to protect and save them and that is the added responsibility,” Gee said.

Gee is not the only one. Educational advocate, Kelly LaRoe, works with local teachers and students and said she’s seen an increase in anxiety surrounding how we go about making sure our kids are safe.

LaRoe said, “The teachers and students I’ve spoken with are having anxiety about arming teachers. What do we do to protect the students and the teachers?”

Dr. Stuart Anfang is the Vice Chair of Psychiatry at Baystate and says having increased anxiety after watching something so traumatic unfold is not surprising, but there are ways to combat it.

“You can do calming exercises, take a break, exercise...If its causing more and more impairment, get formal treatment. Sometimes even getting counseling can help,” Anfang said.

Springfield School Committee member, Latonia Naylor, said what gives her reassurance is reminding herself of all the protocols and drills in place that keep both teachers and students prepared.

“What makes me happy is that when we talk to administrators, they have plans in place to deal with certain things and when a threat is made they get right on it. They take it very seriously and that makes me reassured," Naylor said.

Naylor is a gun violence victim herself. At the age of 16, she was shot in the chest.

She says while having anxiety is normal, you have to find a way to put one foot in front of the other and for her it’s all about finding a support system she can lean on.

“I think if you’re feeling alone then you’re going to have anxiety. Find and use your support network and reach out to people,” Naylor said.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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