PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – Cheers and signs greeted teachers entering Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Monday. Teachers and staff were back at the school for their first official non-voluntary day of work since 17 people who shot and killed on February 14.
“God bless you,” sighed Irma Parone, who was among a handful of supporters standing at the entrance.
“They’re just having such a hard time you know, many of them have seen the nastiest thing that you could ever imagine and I know some in particular that said at first said they couldn’t come back until they talked to some of these students who said we really need you,” she said.
All teachers and staff were expected to report to the high school Monday for planning in preparation for students’ arrival on Wednesday.
Sunday marked a somber return for survivors as student and parents were back for a voluntary orientation for the first time since the massacre. The freshman building where the shooting happened is now permanently off limits.
“I was here to pick him up that day it was the longest 8 hours of my life and I’m not ready to let him go yet,” said one father.
The emotional scene inside was captured in pictures on Twitter, as Stoneman Douglas’s Principal Ty Thompson, as promised hugged every student as they entered and stood by to comfort his educators.
Monday morning, there was a rainbow shining over the school, which seemed a symbol of what is certain to be a week of new beginnings, of learning how to cope with a new reality, especially for parents like Ian Kravitz, whose daughter is a junior at the school.
“She doesn’t want to come back and I don’t blame her but we’re gonna help the teachers so we can all come together and help these kids get through this over time,” he said.
Many students do not know at this point what classroom they will be sent to on Wednesday.
If they had any classes inside the freshman building, which is where the shooting took place, they will be placed in another part of the campus.
“I have three, maybe four classes in that building, it’s a place I’ve gone into every day for the past three years and to see it, to enter it, was very weird…very surreal,” said student Emily Melamed.
Monday and Tuesday will be planning days for the staff and faculty.
Wednesday will be the first day that classes resume with students returning on a modified schedule. Classes will be from 7:40 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. and that schedule will run through the rest of the week.