ST. LOUIS — After a deadly shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School (CVPA), students at neighboring Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience (CSMB) returned to in-person classes Monday.
The twin high schools took a break from instruction altogether after the shooting, then picked up with virtual classes.
Changes have been made to the St. Louis Public School (SLPS) Collegiate building.
Doors and windows damaged during the event in October have been repaired or replaced. The new pieces in the school are made of fortified materials.
Collegiate also has more staff on-site for safety. CSMB Principal Frederick Steele confirmed the school has added more officers and armed officers.
The increase of on-site officers is big change, one student knew about before returning.
Steele hopes by being open and honest with the kids, they would feel safe about returning to class.
"I was very, very specific about what has been done to the school physically to prepare and I was also very specific about how measured this day should be too," he said.
The typical Monday schedule was shortened to allow students to ease back into routine. Welcome posters lined the hallways and service dogs were on site for Monday.
"Some students experienced the most severe level of trauma on our side of the school and some students experienced very little of that trauma," Steele told 5 On Your Side. "We have to be sensitive to the full spectrum of what students are dealing with."
Staff has been prepped by mental health professionals for how best to support students returning to a place with traumatic memories.
Dr. Bart Andrews, who is chief clinical officer at Behavioral Health Response, said some kids are going to be anxious, some kids are going to be afraid that they are going to have a strong reaction coming to school, those are natural things.
Andrews said it is important to think of the mental trauma as an injury, one that needs care and time to heal.
"As hard as it is, it is important to get people back in the place where they were before. It actually speeds up the recovery process. But the youth need to be prepared, this is a hard thing to do, it is not easy," Andrews said.
In response to a poll from Steele, 90% of CSMB students said they want to return to in-person classes. For the remaining 10%, they are able to attend virtually.
The neighboring school, CVPA, where the shooting took place, is preparing to return to in-person learning in January.
SLPS Superintendent Dr. Kelvin Adams told us today students want to come back, but the building is not ready yet.