OXFORD, Mich. (WXYZ) — Oxford school officials continue planning for the reopening of school after the holidays and are already providing counseling to students, teachers and staff.
Teachers will be taking on the role of counselors as students come back.
Dr. Gerald Shiener is a psychiatrist and says the school's focus on students will include, “an ongoing program of trying to resolve all the fear and the terror these kids must have experienced and all of the anger that might cover up those fears as kids commonly do.”
Oxford High School Principal Steve Wolf told students and families this week in an online message, “We truly miss you and can’t wait to see you soon.”
The message also said, "It's been healing and helpful to share stories, cry together, give hugs and just be together."
The district has scheduled dates for students to pick up belongings. They've also said meals will be provided as needed for students and families.
Counselors remain ready throughout the area to step in as needed to help the 1,800 students, teachers and school staff.
Information on backpack pickups and the additional resources being provided can be found on Wolf's Dec. 8 update.
The National Association of School Psychologists has an online plan to help schools through this kind of crisis that includes advice on providing safe spaces for counseling including bringing in trailers on school grounds, if needed, and phasing in the return to school.
Shiener says counseling for teachers and staff will include, “helping them talk about their own feelings and what their own experience was like and being debriefed on the trauma of being in the school when this happened.” And teachers and staff working with students, “what kind of questions to ask how to listen without intervening how not to give advice, or not to trivialize the reactions.”
For now, the crisis is still raw. The trauma is ongoing. Shiener says, “it's going to take a year the first Christmas holiday, the first Back To School Day, the first Final Exam, the first homecoming day, every time you go through a milestone, you're going to be reminded of who's not there and what happened to how it's different.”
Some districts that have gone through this hire what’s called a Recovery Coordinator.
The Oxford plan is still evolving. For the latest information from Oxford Community Schools and upcoming plans, visit its website.