OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — Wednesday evening, Oxford Community Schools administrators debuted their return to school plan with parents.
The plan includes two weeks of an alternating hybrid schedule using the middle school building starting Jan. 10, before launching a full return to the high school on Jan. 24.
The return comes with big changes including a building renovation and new safety measures.
Ever since the tragedy at Oxford High School on Nov. 30, the school has remained closed. The time off is helping to give students time to heal, but also giving administrators time to plan and make significant changes.
In a town hall teleconference, Oxford parents heard those plans for the first time.
“What they’ve laid out, it was very positive,” parent Jeff Losee said. “It's a very fluid plan and I'm hoping the flexibility is there for students who react differently."
Jeff and his wife Amy Losee have a son who’s a junior at the high school. He was in class the day of the shooting and like his classmates, he hasn’t been back in school since.
“He’s anxious about going back to the school where this happened and yet at the same time said, 'I realize we have to move forward,'” his parents said.
When he returns, the school will look very different. Renovations have been underway in the school to fix all the damage left behind by the shooting, and the school enlisted help from mental health professionals to redesign and renovate the entire academic wing of the building.
Roughly two-thirds of the carpet in the school was removed, and the bathroom where the shooting began will remain closed the rest of the school year.
“Anything you can do to minimize the visual impact of what that tragedy was, I think is positive,” Amy Losee said.
The school also said they’ve hired a private security firm and will have a larger presence of mental health workers and law enforcement.
On top of using clear backpacks, they’re discussing adding metal detectors and police dogs to sniff for weapons.
"The idea of the ammunition dogs, that was something we never had heard of, but yet seems like such a great solution,” Amy Losee said. “I don't feel like they could be doing more than what they are doing, but you still feel as a parent, is it enough?"
There’s likely no scenario in which every parent and child feels safe returning to the school by the end of January, but the Losee’s say they’re thankful their voices are being heard and hope the plan includes flexibility for students to return at their own pace.
“You're not going to make the whole community satisfied with a planned approach, but if the flexibility is there and the communication is there, I think it’s a positive,” Jeff Losee said.
The plan also gives students the option to stay virtual for a few weeks or through the rest of the year, and the district says they do not intend to extend the year due to lost class time. However, students who feel behind will be able to attend a more robust summer school.
The plan is still fluid, depending on the timeline of the renovation project, which right now is expected to be completed by Jan. 17. School administrators said they are very optimistic they will meet that deadline.