More than 50 parents have signed up to patrol the hallways and grounds of Proviso School District as part of a new safety initiative for students amid pandemic-related hardships, officials announced Tuesday.
The "Parents on Patrol" program will place volunteer moms and dads on the campuses at Proviso East in Maywood, Proviso West in Hillside and Proviso Math and Science Academy in Forest Park.
"We're really excited to have them in our schools," said District 209 Supt. Dr. James Henderson. "Its a calming experience for our scholars, very calming, and our parents are providing that every day all day."
The parents are there to be an extra level of support, the district explained, and monitor for students struggling with mental health issues.
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"I hope that they know that they can come to any parents if there's something going on, even if it's just an ear to lend or just needing that extra voice right there. I think that will be helpful," said Laura Velazquez, mother of a Proviso West junior.
Students who have experienced challenges during the pandemic said the program has already made them feel safer.
"I think I do feel a lot safer. I do feel, you know, like, there's protection around here," said Proviso West student Jessica Flores.
Oxavionne Brant, Proviso West student, said the new initiative gives parents a chance to connect with the students and become more involved.
District 209 has also implemented a crisis intervention team to aid students in understanding available coping mechanisms to mental health issues.
"We have a calming room put in place for the students to go to talk about this stress to, to talk to mental health professionals around things that are bothering them," Henderson said.