ST. LOUIS – A month after the deadly shooting at Central Visual Performing Arts High School (CVPA), some students returned to in-person classes at the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience on Monday.
“We have done several surveys, and the surveys came back that the students at CSMB were ready to come back,” said Dr. Kelvin Adams, superintendent for the St. Louis Public Schools District. “That was the driver for us. Obviously, we have some issues with the building that we will continue to work through. But obviously, students said we are ready to come back in person.”
Five weeks ago, on October 24, a 19-year-old CVPA graduate opened fire inside the school.
Alexzandria Bell, a 15-year-old student at CVPA, and 61-year-old teacher Jean Kuczka were murdered before the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department entered the building and killed the shooter.
The CVPA campus is shared by the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience at Kingshighway Boulevard and Kemper Avenue.
“We’re all itching to be back together, especially the socialization, the seeing friends, and learning together,” said Frederick Steele, principal of the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience. “We know it’s going to be kind of a challenge today, but we have a good plan in place of support, a lot of support.”
Both schools had been closed, and students were taking part in virtual classes using Microsoft Teams to communicate and learn until Monday morning.
St. Louis Public Schools officials trained staff the Friday before Thanksgiving on re-engaging students in a location where there has been a tragedy.
The superintendent wants to get the students ready for some degree of normalcy. Although, Adams said that normal will never happen to this school again.
“I think it’s going to be very difficult for the staff and students coming back,” Adams said. “We have counselors, we have therapy dogs, and therapists here to help them work through the process on the first week of school. We’ll be on an abbreviated schedule about four hours.”
“Parents and schools in the St. Louis community have made homemade signs,” Steele said. “The elementary, middle, and high school kids have made signs for us. They’re up in the hallways right now to welcome kids back. So, I’m very confident about our preparations for today.”
CVPA students will continue to have virtual classes until the end of the semester.