Heritage & Huntington students’ return date announced after school shooting
NEWPORT NEWS, Virginia – Members of the Newport News school board announced a return date at Tuesday’s reunion for students at Huntington and Heritage High School.
Huntington Middle School students will return on October 25 and Heritage High School students will return on October 27.
“I’m ready to go back to school,” said Imani Hayes, senior at Heritage High. “I don’t like being in my room, and I miss the people and the vibes and everything.”
Students from Heritage and Huntington have not returned to the building since chaos erupted inside the high school a month ago.
Police said a 15-year-old boy shot and injured two classmates on September 20. Since then, children have learned virtually.
“I don’t like the virtual at all,” said Cierra Guilford, second year student at Heritage.
School board members decided on Tuesday to move forward with a plan to keep students safe. It was approved by Superintendent Dr. George Parker.
At the last meeting on Tuesday, October 5, school board members discussed revising safety policies to get children back to school, but there was no specific start date yet.
The safety plan calls for six school safety officers instead of four at Heritage and one in Huntington.
School leaders have also agreed to step up random and compulsory searches of classrooms and book bags and to use portable metal detectors when children get off the bus. Schools will also have more metal detectors that will be used more often.
“I can understand metal detectors, but random checks… I feel like it’s necessary, but not so necessary,” Guilford said. “I mean, if you want to check us out, just check us out at the start or end of the day. “
For Hayes and Guilford, this was not how they expected to start a new school year.
“It’s not how I wanted to spend my senior year, especially with COVID last year, but it is,” Hayes said.
“We are not going to have the freedom that we had,” she said.
Giving up some of that freedom, however, is something they are willing to do to stay safe and be back in class with their friends.
“Although it might just go a bit away when we go back to school, but once they get back to normal it’s going to be really good,” Hayes said.
“It’s going to be better,” Guilford added.
Administrators told News 3 that the safety plan had been carefully thought out with input from students, staff and parents, adding that the measures would remain in place indefinitely.