Oxford High students to return to school Monday after deadly shooting

Nearly two months after a deadly school shooting left four students dead and seven others wounded, Oxford High School students will return Monday for their first school day at the high school's campus since the tragedy.

Many students will likely return to campus changed, mentally and some physically, as a result of the Nov. 30 shooting, when a student opened fire in a hallway during the school day. About 1,500 students attend Oxford High, according to state enrollment data.

And they'll come back to a changed school building. Since December, the campus has undergone multiple renovations to improve the campus after it sustained damage from the shooting.

They will also return to new district-implemented support measures aimed at helping students burdened with the mental toll a shooting takes.

"As a community, we will get through this with love and grace for one another," Superintendent Tim Throne wrote in a public statement on Jan. 18.

What's changed?

One of the first changes students are likely to notice: each other's bags. The Oxford district adopted a clear backpack policy in the wake of the shooting. The backpacks have also been required at the middle school, where high school students have had some in-person classes.

Photos provided by the district of the renovation show large wildcat graphics, the wildcat is the school's mascot.

Other renovations include adding new paint, wall graphics, ceiling tiles, according to spokesperson Dani Stublensky. Lockers will be adorned with encouraging notes from elementary and middle school students, she wrote.

The school will also have added security.

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Law enforcement and personnel from a security firm will be on district campuses as students return.

What are students facing?

The school district is adding therapy dogs to campuses to comfort students as they navigate life after the shooting. Staff members are also now trained in trauma response.

Students also have the opportunity to see mental health providers and multiple professionally trained trauma specialists will remain on campuses, according to Oxford's website.

The mental supports are all in place to help students cope after the shooting.

According to the National Center for PTSD, 28% of people who have witnessed a mass shooting develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Experts say students need consistency and support after such a tragedy.

The district asked members of the news media to refrain from being on the high school campus Monday as students return. Upon the advice of a trauma specialist, the district is also removing a temporary memorial before students return Monday.

According to Throne, Oxford is planning a permanent memorial to honor the lives of the students who died.

Contact Lily Altavena: laltavena@freepress.com or follow her on Twitter @LilyAlta.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Oxford High students to return to school Monday

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