LEWISTON, Maine — In the wake of this week’s mass shootings in Lewiston and death of the suspected shooter on Friday, the superintendent here announced a plan to ease students back into the classroom over the next few weeks.
Lewiston students will return to school on Tuesday, Oct. 31, having last attended class this past Wednesday. That night, a gunman killed 18 people and injured 13 more at a local bowling alley and restaurant, throwing the Lewiston community into chaos.
Area public schools were closed for the rest of the week as over 350 law enforcement officers undertook a two-day manhunt for the alleged perpetrator, Robert R. Card II, 40, of Bowdoin, locking Lewiston and surrounding communities into a shelter in place order.
Card was found dead by police on Friday evening. With the immediate threat to students’ safety now over, schools Superintendent Jake Langlais shared a back to school plan on Saturday for the coming weeks.
On Monday, only staff will return to schools. At 6 p.m. that day, a town hall-style meeting will be held virtually to talk through back-to-school planning as a community, Langlais wrote in his bulletin.
During the first week back at school for students, beginning Tuesday, the schedule will be kept “intentionally light,” according to Langlais.
“The intent this week is to: Pace ourselves; Have and give permission to feel emotions; Engage in a lighter version of routine with time and space to navigate individual dynamics; Assess, reflect, and adapt to what we learn as we go,” Langlais wrote.
Other adjustments include an early release for kids on Wednesdays for the next three weeks, and on one Friday, next week. Counselors will be available for students and staff, and a recognition will be planned for one of the victims, Lucy Violette, who worked for the school district’s business office for years according to Langlais.
By Monday, Nov. 13, students will return to a regular school day.
Langlais said this schedule was made considering a number of factors that include “the power of routine to re-establish a sense of normalcy, to gather again, and support one another.”