ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Public Schools are preparing to welcome back their students on Tuesday. Megan Marietta, the social work manager for the district, said part of the back-to-school process is preparing to help families and students heal from the trauma that occurred over the summer.
"Unfortunately, this is not the first time we've had to be prepared on the first day of school to support staff and students in regards to a loss associated with violence," Marietta said.
According to information from the district, SLPS lost 15 students during the summer to gun violence in the last four years. Those numbers don't include this summer.
In each of those cases, the system sent crisis teams to the impacted schools to work with students, families and faculty.
This year, the district will also pilot a program that implants more hands-on services for its students.
Eleven children were shot and killed in the St. Louis area this summer, with the latest murder occurring Monday night, the day before the first day.
Marietta said there are different challenges associated with different age levels when working with this sort of trauma.
She said elementary school students often struggle to understand the concept of death.
For older students, she said the show of emotion can vary, so working with them at their level is key.
She said the greatest challenge for the 40 social workers who are planted in the system's traditional schools is that the violence in the city is becoming more common and students and faculty are becoming "numb" and "angry".
Despite it being what she said can sometimes feel like "an uphill battle", Marietta said the work she and the other social workers do is worth it.
"I just have to remember why we're here," Marietta said. "It's about the kids. That's why we're here."