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Madison easing back into school after shooting

Posted at 4:24 PM, Mar 01, 2016

MADISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio – Teachers will sit with students in the Madison High School/Junior High School cafeteria during lunchtime Wednesday in a step to bring back normalcy after a school shooting on Monday, a district spokesperson told WCPO.com on Tuesday.

School administration officials have a plan in place when students return to the classrooms Wednesday just two days after two students were shot by a .380-caliber, semi-automatic firearm in the cafeteria, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

AJ Huff, coordinator of school community relations at Madison, told WCPO.com the district is doing its best to help students feel comfortable again in their regular learning environment.

“The teachers have been told all the things that we have in place for tomorrow,” Huff said. “We do have staff members in addition to our bus drivers that are going to be riding all the routes in the morning. So that as the students get on the buses not only are they going to see their bus driver but also a familiar face in case anyone is upset.”

There will be crisis counselors in both media centers of the elementary and junior high/high school buildings all day. There will also be a therapy dog available.

“Lots of different things,” Huff said. “People that are specialized in different areas – both internally and we have some external counselors coming in to help with trauma. Our goal tomorrow is to really let those kids grieve the way they need to.”

The cafeteria area will be a special emphasis on Wednesday since it was the site of Monday’s shooting.

“That’s going to be a concern tomorrow,” Huff said. “Our staff plans to eat lunch in the cafeterias - not in the teachers’ lounges. We kind of laughed and said we will see if the teenagers will actually want us to sitting at the tables. Some will and some won’t. But I think it’s important for that to happen.”

Huff said everything is hour by hour with the plan and she feels that is a good start for Wednesday.

The school district hopes Tuesday night's walk-through will put a lot of minds at ease for families and students. It was not open to the public, but is an opportunity for students to reacquaint themselves with the surrounding. The media were asked not to be in the vicinity.

Huff, a Madison graduate, said the school district relied on counsel from other local districts in organizing a plan to move forward this week.

“There is a lot of outreach and just support from a lot of the other local educational institutions around here,” Huff said. “We have talked to some other people who have dealt with similar situations. And we really looked at what we think is best for our students and just kind of pulled a little bit from here and there and this is where we are for tomorrow and tonight.”

There are 1,600 students preschool to 12th grade in the Madison Local District. There are approximately 800 students in grades 7-12.

Huff lives near the school and has children in the district. She has been thoroughly impressed by the community support the past 24 hours.

Huff admits her phone has been busy non-stop and she received little sleep Monday night. But, the students are the main focus in these difficult circumstances.

“It’s been tough but at the same time it doesn’t surprise me how our community, and how our staff and students responded with nothing but confidence,” Huff said.