It has been two weeks since the Aurora movie theater shooting left 12 dead and 58 injured and the affects of the massacre are widespread in the Aurora community. Across the Aurora school district, hundreds of students and faculty are directly connected to this tragedy and Aurora Public Schools has a plan in place to help with the healing.
7News reports that nearly 150 people inside the Century 16 movie theater on July 20 -- whether in theater 9 where the shooting took place or adjacent theaters within the Century 16 complex -- were connected to Aurora Public Schools (APS) and many specifically connected to Gateway High School.
District officials are estimating that around 50 students from Gateway High School were in theaters 8 or 9 on the night of the shootings -- one recent graduate from Gateway, Alexander "AJ" Boik, was one of the victims who was killed.
"We'll have a whole range of reactions based on students ability to cope with tragedy so we're prepared to offer assistance to all our students and our staff as well," Bill Hedges, Gateway High School Principal said to CBS4.
According to 9news, with the help of a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education and some use of the district's emergency funds, APS will provide extra mental health professionals to the schools offering students, staff and parents with advice for coping with this tragedy for the first three months of the school year.
Aurora Public Schools has already held a number of meetings for parents and staff on handling discussion of the tragedy with children who may be traumatized by the event and has announced that they are working with renowned experts from the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement.
Additionally, collected on Aurora Public Schools website are a number of resources for teachers and parents with advice for talking to children about trauma, loss of loved ones and the fear and confusion associated with a crime like this.
On the first day of classes next week on August 7, in the first period, educators at APS will be addressing the tragedy with an age-specific script letting students know about the resources available to them if they need to work through any difficult emotions.
Superintendent John Barry of Aurora Public Schools says that a bank of substitute teachers will be hired and available to assist any APS teacher that feels overwhelmed by the tragedy and might need a break.
"We will come out stronger in the end," Barry told The Denver Post.
Visit Aurora Public Schools website for more information on the plan for the school year and for a schedule of upcoming meetings.
Photos from the Aurora movie theater shooting:
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