NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A sense of normalcy returned to Heritage High School Wednesday, a month after a school shooting injured two students and shocked the community.
Even with new safety measures in place, the trauma from that day has left a lasting impression on those in the school community.
Tamara Williams remembers the fear she felt the day her son called her saying there was a shooting at the school.
“When I came to get my kids, I just held them and I cried,” she said.
She admits she still was on edge to send her freshman and junior students back on Wednesday.
“I kind of, really not ready for my kids to come back because the day that they allowed them to come retrieve their things, my daughter almost had like a nervous breakdown. Almost like a panic attack,” she said. “She was just like nervous, shaking.”
Director of Secondary School Leadership Dr. Eleanor Blowe says administrators, police and staff came up with a safety plan and used parent feedback to implement safety measures in the school for when students returned.
“Metal detection was a big topic for parents but also making sure that we had support in place if their children came back to school and they were in crisis or didn’t feel comfortable,” she said. “Making sure that we had some support or someone that they could talk to.”
Metal detectors, specifically wands, will be used regularly. Six security guards and a school resource officer will be on site every day and random bus and classroom searches will be conducted.
“What additional measures? What things do we need to tighten up as far as our processes to make sure that nothing like this occurred again as best as possible for us? So we put those safety measures and additional trainings into our safety plan,” said Blowe.
A Newport News police officer will be posted outside each high school in the city and a school resource officer has been assigned to Heritage.
“We want them to feel welcomed back into the building but give them a level of safety and security knowing that we have put additional measures in place for them,” she said.
Williams says the new measures sound great, but she still feels anxious sending her kids back.
“We wouldn’t know until one of our kids come home and tell us that they’re really doing that,” said Williams. “As a parent, we wouldn’t know cause we don’t really go inside the school.”
Williams says even though the school says they have more safety measures in place, she’ll feel better once her kids say they feel safe again back in the classroom.