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Rogue Valley school districts gather support for communities after Uvalde violence

Ashland High School
Erik Neumann
JPR News
Ashland High School will help students find counselors over the summer if needed.

In the wake of last week’s mass shooting, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, some school districts in the Rogue Valley are preparing to support their communities over the summer.

Ashland School District Superintendent Samuel Bogdanove compiled resources to send out in the district’s online newsletter on May 25. They included information about district safety, resources for talking with children about school violence, and contact information for district counselors.

“What we tried to do is to provide some information to parents on how to talk with their kids about it, when their kids see it on the news, if their kids have questions,” he said. “We put together a newsletter that has some good resources for parents who are working to talk about these issues with their kids, as well as contact information for all of our mental health staff.”

The district has 12 counselors available until the school year ends on June 10. Some counselors will be available over the summer, and the district will work to connect other students with counselors in the community if needed.

Bogdanove said the district will be reviewing its practices in terms of physical safety and staff and student training at its schools.

“There's some serious questions for schools and communities to look at in terms of safety,” he said. “I think it makes me question, makes all of us question, what can we do differently? What can we do better?”

The district’s June 10 graduation will proceed as planned.

Grants Pass School District has a crisis counseling team in place, which will continue to be available over the summer as well.

Even before the Texas shooting, the district was reviewing its parent-student reunification process and ensuring its schools have electronic door buzzers for added security.

“There's a very robust network of things that happen and continual updating of information and updating our procedures,” said Sherry Ely, the district’s chief finance and operations officer.

While Uvalde is thousands of miles away, Bogdanove noted that mass shootings have occurred closer to home.

In 1998, a student at Thurston High School in Springfield shot two classmates and wounded twenty-five others. In 2015, a student at Umpqua Community College killed a professor and eight other students in a classroom. And six people were wounded in a mass shooting in Eugene in January.

“When it comes to our kids, it's close to home for every parent and every teacher that works in schools,” Bogdanove said.

Jane Vaughan began her journalism career as a reporter for a community newspaper in Portland, Maine. She's been a producer at New Hampshire Public Radio and worked on WNYC's On The Media. Jane earned her Master's in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.