Oxford Schools leader reflects on 'a different and difficult holiday for many in our community'

December 18, 2021, 4:24 PM

Below are excerpts from a public message Friday to parents and students by Superintendent Tim Throne of Oxford Community Schools, where the middle school, five elementary buildings and two other learning sites were closed Wednesday through Friday after a social media threat.

High schoolers have been off since a Nov. 30 shooting that killed four students. The district has 7,148 students.

(Graphic: Michelle Kussner)

'We will get through this together'

I am sorry our students and staff were not able to see one another off [Friday]. However, as our break begins, I want to thank you for your continued patience, resilience and support during this incredibly difficult time for our school district and the entire Oxford community.

Sadly, this holiday break will be unlike any other our community has experienced. This will be a different and difficult holiday for many in our community. I hope you will have the opportunity to spend time with family and friends this holiday season, as we all need someone by our side right now. I also ask that you keep the families of the victims and those injured in your hearts and prayers. They need our continued support, friendship and love.

I would also like you to know that throughout the next two weeks, we will be working on the plan for our safe and secure return to school. Obviously, we will keep you updated along the way and seek your continued input. 

Our current plan includes K-8 students returning on Monday, Jan. 3. ...

Tim Throne: "We will not let this horrific tragedy define us." (Photo: YouTube/Oxford Community Schools)

Over the break, we will provide an update on the safe, secure reopening of the high school. ... We will continue gathering and taking into consideration the input from our staff, families, mental health professionals and the contractors working on OHS on when and how we plan the safe return of our high school students and staff. ...

The mental and emotional health of our students, staff and school community is our primary focus and concern. Throughout the break, we will continue providing mental health resources. ...

We have heard countless times from mental health experts over the last two weeks that social interaction and human contact play critical roles in the grieving and healing process. I am sure all of us will be very emotional this holiday break.

(Photo: Rebecca Cook)

Please remember it is common to experience a wide range of emotional reactions to a traumatic event like the one our community has endured. Take the time to seek help if you need it and reach out to support your friends and neighbors.

The outpouring of support from our community, the state and the world has helped us pull through these dark and difficult days and has made me even more determined that we will not let this horrific tragedy define us. We will continue on our healing journey together. We will get through this together. And we will emerge stronger than we ever thought possible.

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and a safe holiday break.

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