Marathon bombings will cast a shadow over schools as they reopen
When public schools reopen Monday for the first time since the Boston Marathon bombings, Cambridge will be grappling with dual sorrows.
Several teachers in the district were injured in the blasts, according to school officials, and both suspected bombers — Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who died Friday after a shootout with police, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who was hospitalized after his capture — graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.
“I think the overwhelming feeling is just of confusion,” said Samuel Gebru, 21, a 2009 graduate who is trying to organize a rally with other alumni and students to support the community. “We are surprised. We are hurt.”
Across greater Boston, students returning from April vacation will continue to feel the aftershocks of the April 15 attack. Schools in Dorchester and Medford are mourning two victims who died, an 8-year-old pupil and a 29-year-old graduate. At other schools, teachers and staff will be absent because they were injured by bombs or shrapnel.
School officials said they are trying to be as prepared as possible to help children and staff after an emotional week off.
“We don’t quite know the connections that students and staff have to the events,” said Lee McGuire, spokesman for the Boston Public Schools. “It will be good to have students back in class this week, but it will be important to have the right staff in place.”
Boston officials will pay special attention to the Snowden International School on Newbury Street, just around the corner from the Marathon finish line where the bombs exploded a week ago, McGuire said.
Students returning to Snowden are likely to pass police barricades, flowers, and memorials to the bombing victims and an athletic store covered with chalk messages of prayers and support. For many of these students it will be the first time they’ve been at the scene of the bombings, McGuire said.
Boston’s school counselors have also been helping the Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester this past week, where 8-year-old bombing victim Martin Richard attended school, McGuire said.
The school was not releasing any details about how it is handling its first day back, according to a spokesman.
Boston Superintendent Carol R. Johnson called families throughout the city Sunday night to welcome them back from the break, offer them resources on how to talk to their children about the events and remind them that school can be a welcome return to the normal.
“We hope your family is safe and well and that you are looking forward to returning to a normal schedule tomorrow, just as we are,” Johnson said in her recorded remarks. “We know this last week has been difficult and full of many emotions for students as well as adults.”
Johnson said some schools may hold a moment of silence Monday to commemorate the one-week anniversary of the bombings “and also to thank the many first responders and everyday heroes who helped us all get through.”
The school district will have its own counselors fanned out throughout the system and will have mental health clinicians from the community on standby to provide additional resources if needed, McGuire said.