WASHINGTON – A day after a Montgomery County shooting spree forced officials to lock down students and cancel activities, schools statewide began easing restrictions Friday in an attempt to regain normalcy.
Students in Montgomery County were still greeted with locked front doors and they were not permitted outside for recess or gym classes, but schools were not officially operating under Code Blue.
By mid-morning, school officials announced that afternoon extracurricular activities and athletic events would go on as planned.
“We’re finding that schools are able to handle the situation,” said Min Leong, Montgomery County’s director of student services. “They are not experiencing a lot of heightened anxiety. It’s almost business as usual.”
Of the county’s 190 schools, Leong said only 12 requested additional counselors and support personnel this week. Guidance counselors in all schools are trained to handle crisis situations, but Leong there was not an overwhelming demand.
Some school officials were concerned that attendance would be down, if parents chose to keep their children at home, but most counties contacted Friday said attendance appeared to be at normal levels.
Pamela Collins, the principal of Fox Chapel Elementary School in Germantown, said about 20 students were taken out of school early on Thursday — only about twice the typical number of 10 students who leave early each day for doctors’ appointments or family events.
In neighboring Frederick County, where students were kept inside schools Thursday, all school operations returned to normal Friday. Marita Loose, a spokeswoman for the county’s schools, said an e-mail survey of principals indicated no problems.
“Principals at every level said things are running smoothly,” Loose said. “Attendance is normal and students have not had an adverse reaction to what happened.”
But some schools, where children were related to the shooting victims, were hit harder by the attacks.
Montgomery County schools spokeswoman Kate Harrison said about three schools had students who were directly impacted by the tragedy. But she said even those schools were mostly back to normal.
“Normal means you focus on classroom instruction,” Harrison said. “These are not normal times, but you do what you can. For the majority of students, they are back in school and they are focused on that.”
One of the schools affected by the shootings was Sherwood High School in Sandy Spring. One of the victims had a child who was a former student at the school, said Assistant Principal Leo McDonald.
“It was in the community, and the kids are apprehensive,” McDonald said.
But he said the school day went by without incident and that most students did not need extra counseling.
In Howard County, a ban on all outside student activity was in effect until 5 p.m. Friday. After that, all scheduled extracurricular and athletic events went on as planned.
Students returned to Prince George’s County Schools on Friday with no restrictions on recess or other outdoor activities.