Child psychologist profiles steps for Oxford High School students’ return

Oxford High School memorial is multiplying with teddy bears, photos and flowers

An expert weighs in on what should happen before Oxford High School students return to school.

OXFORD, Mich. – Students at Oxford High School will not have the option to return to classes until after the turn of the new year.

Cathy Kennedy-Paine, a psychologist with the National Association of School Psychologists-National Crisis Response Team, believes that the first day back on campus will be challenging for all involved.

“You know, this is going to be very scary for people to go back into this building after a shooting,” said Kennedy-Paine. “It’s a very traumatic event. People are going to need to have a lot of support.”

It will be a complex move for those who plan to return to Oxford High School. It will require a lot of careful planning and thinking with the factors that would decrease the likelihood that what the students, faculty and staff endured will cause further trauma.

“We really should be thinking about the physical safety of the staff and students as they go back and also the emotional safety,” Kennedy-Paine said.

She said a big part of that is social support.

“That’s why we usually recommend that the school does go back as soon as possible so that the high school students can be in their natural support system, which is their peers.”

She added that there is no way to measure the best return date, but she thinks the school will have to rectify the physical damage. More importantly, offer mental support for the students and the staff that needs restoring.

The knowledge and experience of Kennedy-Paine are pivotal as her expertise ascends 35 years of service. Her prowess as a crisis worker is upwards of 30 years.

She responded to the high school shooting at Thurston High School in 1998 in Springfield, Oregon, where she lives. That shooting happened one year before Columbine.

Click here for complete coverage on the Oxford High School shooting

About the Authors:

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.