Oxford students returned, what has changed

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Nearly two months after the tragedy, Oxford High School resumed in-person learning on January 24, 2022.

Oxford High School students returned to classes at the district’s middle school for a half-day on Tuesday, January 11, 2022, but returned to the high school building on January 24.
They have been out of the building since the November 30, 2021, mass shooting that injured seven and killed four students. Since December, the campus has undergone multiple renovations to improve the campus after it sustained damage from the shooting.
Many experienced mixed emotions when they returned to the building. Returning students have choices in how they attend the high school for the rest of the school year.
“They may attend in person, work online or enroll in the Oxford Virtual Academy, which has its own teachers and is also online,” Oxford school officials said in a Detroit News article.
When the students returned the Oakland County sheriff’s deputies were on hand to supervise as the students arrived.
Students began their day under a “late start” at 10:20 a.m. with four class periods. The school only had two entrances students used to enter the building for the half-day sessions.
Superintendent of the Oxford community schools, Tim Throne, sent an email to families after school thanking students, families, and staff for a successful return to the renovated and “reclaimed” high school.
“The energy in our building was positive and encouraging. We had a strong return with 91% of our high school students in attendance. Words can not express how good it is to be together with our Wildcats again,” Throne stated in a Detroit News article.
According to a Detroit News article, the superintendent said the district made adjustments to remove one-way hallway traffic throughout the day after getting feedback from returning students.
“I think it was kind of early for the students to go back but also it was a long period of time,” senior Salena St. John said. “I feel like you need a lot of time to recover from an incident like that.”
For weeks prior, students attended classes online or at Oxford Middle School. Officials also repaired damaged hallways, classrooms, and doors and came up with a plan for the reopening of the high school.
As students who returned to school were carrying clear backpacks, they entered a school with increased security, new paint in “calming colors” and hand-written messages of support on hearts and snowflakes.
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.
The Oxford community provided dozens of therapy dogs, including a fleet of puppies-in-training from Leader Dogs. Every high school student received a gift bag at the end of the day, courtesy of the Oxford Strong organization as well.
“Safe rooms” were also created where students can find solace and help from crisis counselors, and a new mural has been painted across a giant wall of the sprawling school, which before the shooting had about 1,800 students.
“As a community, we will get through this with love and grace for one another,” Throne said in a public statement on Jan. 18.