It was a difficult day for staff returning to work at Riverview High School on Thursday after a teacher was shot outside of the school earlier this week.
“I was driving onto the school property today and was overcome with some emotion,” said Jason Reath, the school principal.
“We are trying to process it along with the rest of the staff and the students and people in the community and just trying to make sure that we are taking care of one another,” he said.
Reath said the teacher who was shot Tuesday evening is recovering, “he is in good spirits” and now the school staff and students are trying to begin the healing process.
“It is how we respond to these events and the love and the care for the community, the staff and the students that really matters in moments like this,” said Reath.
Reath says several teachers were either involved in or responded to the scene following the shooting and it will take time to heal from the ordeal.
“We actually have counselors who are available supporting all of our staff here at the school today and really it is about how we can take care of ourselves a little bit so that we are best able to support our students who are returning to us tomorrow,” he said.
A shooting in front of the school occurred just after 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Initial reports indicated the teacher was shot in the should and suffered a non-life-threatening injury.
All schools district in the district were closed on Wednesday as a result of the incident.
“All Anglophone East District operations will be closed Wednesday January 6th,” said a tweet, sent out to 40 schools in the Moncton area.
The Anglophone East School District’s Director of Education Support Servies, Krista Allen, said in-person and telephone counseling supports are being offered to students at Riverview High as well as at other schools across the province.
“Students are able to access their school-based counselors at the school when they are learning from home and we also have virtual phone lines set up with mental health counselors that are supported by our child and youth teams through horizon health,” Allen said.
Meanwhile, some parents of students who were inside the school at the time of the shooting are commending the efforts of staff, both during the shooting and afterward.
Riverview’s Lana Hansen’s two daughters were inside the gym for basketball practice at the time of the shooting.
She says school staff did a wonderful job making her daughters feel secure during the temporary lockdown that followed.
“I am so appreciative of their efforts! Since then, there has been communication and outreach from both coaches and the school with offers of support and resources,” said Hansen.
Reath says the support from the community has been overwhelming. He said several schools throughout the district wore red on Thursday in support of Riverview’s Royals.
Also overwhelming, he said, are the feelings of gratitude and relief. “We are grateful that it was not anything worse.”
Nova Scotia RCMP arrested a suspect, Janson Bryan Baker, in Amherst, N.S. on Wednesday.
“The type of firearm is not being released at this time.”
–With files from Karla Renic