Students in many US states are just returning to classrooms after months of remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic — but the move back has come with an unfortunate uptick in gun violence. From the first hours of Thursday, it felt like Groundhog Day — at 7:00 am an Army trainee carrying a rifle hijacked a bus full of elementary school students near Fort Jackson, South Carolina for reasons unknown, before letting them go unharmed. Arrested a short time later, the 23-year-old man was charged with 19 counts of kidnapping, carjacking and other crimes. “Probably one of the scariest calls that we can get in law enforcement … is that a school bus has been hijacked with kids on it with someone with a gun. And that’s what we had this morning,” local sheriff Leon Lott told the ABC station. Then, on the other side of the country in Idaho, at about 9:00 am a girl in sixth grade — meaning she is about 11 or 12 — took a gun out of her backpack and started shooting. Two students and a staff member were injured. A teacher disarmed the girl and she was taken into custody. Her motive remains unknown. Later in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a middle school was evacuated after a teacher reported seeing a student with a gun. In the end, the offending item turned out to be a mobile phone, but the incident shows how US teachers are on high alert. Back in South Carolina, a high school student was arrested for bringing a firearm to school. And the day before in the southern state of Alabama, another student was arrested with two guns and a knife. The incidents are reported by local media, but they do not make national headlines. Only a deadly shooting spree, like the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida in February 2018 (17 dead), sparks a shockwave. “No other high income country experiences or tolerates constant school shootings,” tweeted Shannon Watts, the founder of the Moms Demand Action movement against gun violence. Worse than ever? More than 248,000 students have been exposed to gun violence in schools since 13 people were killed in the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, according to data compiled by The Washington Post. The figure includes those caught up in the violence, such as witnesses and those forced to evacuate educational institutions when gunfire erupts.