Oxford adds security measures, renovates high school ahead of return

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Tightened security measures and a district psychiatrist are among the changes families at Oxford Community Schools should expect when high school students return for in-person classes this month for the first time following a shooting on November 30.

School officials noted at a virtual town hall Thursday that future enhanced security measures could include ammunition-sensitive dogs in schools and random sweeps in parking lots and on school buses.

The planned changes and others under consideration come in response to the shooting at a nation’s deadliest school since 2018. Ethan Crumbley, a sophomore at Oxford High School, is accused of opening fire on inside the school, killing four students and injuring six others and a teacher.

Residents, parents and others were invited on Thursday to ask questions and participate in a survey regarding their concerns ahead of the gradual return of classes next week for high school students in another building before they return to high school on Thursday. week of january. 24.

Officials spoke of major physical renovations at the high school, including new rugs and “calming” colors and textures that are expected to be completed by January 17. Until then, the high school students will renew their studies at the district college and attend computer lessons. High school students will be offered pass-fail grading options in the first semester; the grades they would have received, or an option to improve their grade.

Officials also noted that extensive damage occurred along a high school hallway, requiring work in more than 25 classrooms.

The district plans to hold three open days for Oxford High School students and families to tour the renovated high school building together before January 24.

For two weeks, from January 10 to 21, Oxford High, Oxford Middle School and Bridges, its alternative high school, will be on “alternative hybrid schedules” in the college building, Oxford Community Schools Director Tim Throne wrote in a letter to families this week.

Throne and other principals made it clear on Thursday that the emotional and physical safety of the students remained their top priority.

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and Oxford Village Police are committed to increasing public safety at the school, officials said.

Among the mental health resources in place, the school district plans to have a psychiatrist on site at the college to meet with students and also visit other schools.

It remains to be seen what other types of security enhancements are needed. While see-through backpacks are now required for middle and high school students, some parents argued on Thursday that it was not enough to prevent a weapon from being smuggled into the school and said more was needed be done for the safety of the school.

“Why are metal detectors a problem? Asked a parent, Rebecca Drisco. “This may be the only way to make sure a gun doesn’t get to school.”

Jill Lemond, assistant superintendent of student services, said Thursday the cost of the metal detectors was not a consideration but rather how they are implemented at the school’s 54 entrances.

Parents also asked if the results of an internal school survey would be made available to the public before students return to school.

Lemond said a “blue ribbon” group would investigate all concerns, including school safety procedures and “what we can do better.”

“The results will be communicated and we will share whatever we can,” she noted.

The school has been closed since the incident in which 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana; Tate Myre, 16; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 17, were killed.

Nearly 400 callers responded to a number of questions on Thursday, including how satisfied they were with the district’s handling of the circumstances to date. Among those questioned, 61% said they were very satisfied; 31% were somewhat satisfied and 8% said they were not satisfied.

When asked what they knew about the mental health resources available at school, 60% of respondents said they were aware; 33% said they were somewhat aware and 7% said they were not aware.

Crumbley, 15, has been charged with various crimes including first degree murder and terrorism. He is jailed without bond and has a probable cause hearing in Rochester Hills District Court Friday.

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