Madera Unified kicks off school year with focus on campus safety, mental health

Evolv System uses AI that can detect objects a student may have on them that they're not supposed to.

Amanda Aguilar Image
Tuesday, August 8, 2023
Madera Unified begins school year with focus on safety, mental health
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A North Valley school district is ready to crack open some textbooks and kick off another school year.

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Madera Unified welcomed back families Monday for the first day of classes.

District staff understands school is where students spend the majority of their day, which is why continuing to improve the culture and climate of each site is one of several focuses this year.

"The culture is the behavior of the campus, and the climate is how students feel. A big part of today is creating a huge welcome to create that safe environment and also that environment of belonging," said Prince Marshall, assistant superintendent of Students & Family Support Services.

Students said they have been eager to step foot on campus.

At Virginia Lee Rose School, you can see the excitement on students' faces as they learned about their classrooms for the year.

"I'm excited to make new friends and to actually learn new things," said sixth grader Leahna Chia.

Adolfo Chapa dropped off his two children, who can't wait to be back in the classroom.

"They love to learn. They love to read," he said. "They get really excited at home with the homework and stuff."

Madera Unified staff want to assure parents that kiddos are in a safe learning environment.

A new security screening device, EVOLV, will be in place soon at the front of all secondary and high schools.

"It is a weapon detection system. It's non-intrusive. A lot of our professional sporting arenas use it," explained Marshall. "It's a simple walk-on to campus. It's supported by a few staff members to detect any inappropriate items that could be found in a backpack."

Aside from safety, mental health support is also top of mind for the district.

"We have behavioral health clinicians that support in that area," Marshall said. "Outside of that, we have counselors that are on campus. Our administrators are trained to support students with that as well."

The first two weeks of school will focus on teachers building relationships with their students. During this time, it can reveal if a student needs mental health support -- which the district is prepared to offer through on-campus resources or off-campus.

Madera Unified staff knows focusing on safety and providing support to students will help them become successful throughout their academic careers.

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