Most Oxford students return Monday; high school comeback still in works

December 31, 2021, 10:31 AM by  Alan Stamm

Superintendent Tim Throne: "We have numerous safety measures in place." (Photo: Oxford Community Schools video)

Most Oxford Community Schools students come back to classrooms Monday after a lost month of learning.

All buildings will reopen except the high school, where a Nov. 30 student shooting killed four teens. "We are working through the enormous number of logistics involved in our safe and soft reopening plan," Superintendent Tim Throne says online and in a nearly three-minute video message to parents (below).

He describes the Jan. 3 reopenings elsewhere as the next "steps on our community's journey toward healing." In addition to the 1,787-student high school, the northern Oakland system has a preschool, five elementary schools, one middle school, two small alternative high schools and a virtual academy.

The 78-square-mile district, one of the largest geographically in Southeast Michigan, serves 7,100 students from five townships and two villages.

All schools closed through Dec. 9 after the shooting. Except at the main high school, classes resumed for a half-day Dec. 10 and a full day Dec. 13 before a social media threat brought an early start to the holiday break.

This week's update from Throne, who delayed his planned Jan. 21 retirement, describes changes in response to the hallway gunfire more than four weeks ago. 

We have numerous safety measures in place. ... Every district building will have [uniformed] law enforcement on site. ... A personal security firm hired by the district will have personnel on-site at every school building district-wide. ...

Thanks to the generosity of so many in our community, we now have enough clear backpacks so all high school, middle school and Bridges students will be provided one upon their return. These secondary students will be required to use clear backpacks (which are big enough to hold a student's Chromebook) for the time being. ... 

Elementary school students will not be required to use clear backpacks and will be able to begin bringing their regular backpacks to school on Monday. However, elementary students must keep their backpacks in their lockers or cubbies all day.

(Photo: Gaggle.Net, Inc.)

In addition, two technology tools will monitor incoming emails and students' digital activity in school. From the superintendent:

The district uses GoGuardian software that filters incoming web content to any of our district accounts. ... 

Gaggle software has been activated to help manage student online safety on school-provided accounts. This software manages all outgoing content from students and staff, and flags any concerning images, links to websites and shared items from Google Drive for our technology safety and security team. The software allows the district to work with law enforcement to help ensure any potential online issues, threats or emergencies are immediately addressed.

Also, "trauma specialists will continue to be available at every building for students and staff. ... Every school will have a team of trained therapy dogs in their buildings ... through the remainder of the school year."

Earlier this month, staff members worked to contact the families of all high schoolers and posted a "Community Social emotional Well-Being" survey "so that we may best serve those needing professionally trained crisis counselors, trauma therapists or mental health support."

In-person forums next Wednesday and Thursday will give parents a chance to discuss the high school reopening with administrators.

Message to parents:

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