The Freeman student body prepared to go back to class on Monday after the tragic school shooting that left one student dead and three other injured just days before. School administration said they have been working over the weekend to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Freeman School District Superintendent Randy Russell said in a press conference the Freeman staff has been “working with a team of experts who have the right experience to ensure everything that we say and do with our students on Monday will be helpful in their own healing process.”
"In Freeman we hug it out, that's just what we do," said Russell.
Since the tragic incident Wednesday, the school has been closed, but the Freeman community has come together to make students’ return a little easier. The school’s Associated Student Body met with staff and collectively decided to play Friday night’s football game. Russell mentioned the ASB also put together a barbecue before the game for students to reconnect.
As far as class time goes, Russell encouraged all parents to accompany their students back to class on Monday and spend as much time with their student as they would like. “If they’re here all day, we’re good with that. If they can only be here with their students for part of the day, that’s okay too,” Russell said.
Russell said the idea of bringing parents back to school is to make the entire community feel safe. “You know, a lot of the parents are Freeman alumni. They grew up here. And you know, in Freeman the school district is really the center of the entire community, so there’s a lot of events that happen here because just school,” said Russell.
"School will run as regularly scheduled with a flexible bell schedule in the morning. Parents can come with students they can connect and walk into classrooms they can see the teachers, kind of like our open house on the first day of school but magnified," said Russell.
Monday is scheduled to be a full school day, but with a “flexible morning schedule to allow extra time for families and students to grieve and heal,” according to Russell. For added support, he confirmed there will be a counselor in every classroom to assist the teacher, the students and parents who stay with whatever they need.
The terrifying incident happened in a second floor hallway. In an effort to move forward from the scene, Russell said they plan to have the students, staff and parents walk arm-in-arm together through the hallway to class.
Will this be a normal school day? No.
Russell acknowledged this and said “it’s all going to be based on relationships. Connecting, relationships and checking in on kids.”
"Love will always win over hate and that good will always win over evil and when you’re together you can figure out how to climb any mountain and we have mountains to climb,” said Russell.
Above all else, the Superintendent said the Freeman community is ready to go back “home.”
To listen to the whole press conference, skip ahead to 10:00 in the video below.
Sunday's press conference.
Russell ended his prepared statement by talking about the media coverage of the school.
“I would really like to thank the folks in the media, I just really appreciate the support that we have received as a school district I appreciate your sensitivity I appreciate the respect and the care. I have seen a lot of very friendly faces, I can tell it has affected folks in the media I just appreciate your compassion for what we’re dealing with. We will try to be as accommodating as possible, as always and we’re really just ready to move forward, I know everybody wants that and we need that, so thank you,” said Russell.