A report on student aggression in Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) schools shows an increase in classroom violence.

Trustees heard the report during a Monday night meeting that details a rise in incidents from November to January.

"Students hitting, punching, spitting, you name it," said Jeff Pelich, president of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario for Waterloo region. "Those are the behaviours seen in our community schools."

There have been a total of 606 incidents of student aggression towards teachers and staff, which is up from 270 incidents for the same quarterly period last year.

Data shows that, of the 606 incidents, most took place at elementary schools.

"The increase could be attributed to students returning to the classroom after learning remotely for much of the pandemic," said Graham Shantz, the associate director of WRDSB. "We can speculate we had a lot of students that have come back into a school system and have not experienced it. That's a traumatic and challenging adjustment for students."

More than 65 per cent of all cases were directed at educational assistants or child and youth workers.

"So often when we don't have the funding, school systems are applying band aid solutions and not actually addressing the core root of the problem, which is the students' mental health and the challenges they are facing," said Pelich. "Children are waiting months and months and years on waiting lists to actually get the support they need.

"We have to recognize that, when a student is behaving aggressively, they are trying to communicate something. It's not that they want to be mean or they're violent individuals, it's because they are trying to communicate a challenge and they need help."

The board plans to temporarily increase support resources to respond to student aggression for the remainder of the year.