After Odessa student’s death, district prepares for classmates to return to school

Texas Politics

ODESSA, Texas (Nexstar) — As students and staff at Odessa High School mourn the loss of a student who was killed over the weekend, district leaders are preparing for the learning community to come back to class.

Leilah Hernandez was one of seven people killed in a shooting spree that transcended several miles of Interstate 20 in the Midland-Odessa region. Hernandez was 15 years old.

A bouquet of flowers was left outside Odessa High School on Sept. 2, 2019, to honor Leilah Hernandez, 15. Hernandez, a student there, was killed by a gunman in a mass-shooting in the West Texas city over the weekend. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

A single bouquet of flowers honored the teenager outside her school over the Labor Day weekend.

School was closed for the holiday on Monday.

“We have kids coming back on Tuesday, we need to make sure that all 4,000 employees in our system are feeling safe and secure and we need to make sure that we are equipped as teachers and counselors to deal with our kids,” Ector County ISD Superintendent Scott Muri said.

Muri said the district has a responsibility to equip families with the tools to talk.

“That’s our commitment to all 34,000 kids we have in our system, that they feel as safe as they possibly can,” Muri explained.

“We have additional counselors that will be available coming in from districts all over the state of Texas, they’ll be here on-site to support our kids and our teachers as they return to school,” Muri added.

District officials confirmed counselors met as a group Monday to review crisis response protocols, including reassuring kids they’re safe, making time to talk, observing the emotion state of children, reviewing safety procedures, and maintaining a normal routine.

Teammates of Leilah Hernandez decorate a tree at Odessa High School in her honor. Hernandez was killed in a mass-shooting over Labor Day weekend 2019. (Nexstar Photo/Erin Reynolds)

“It’s our teachers and counselors and cafeteria workers and bus drivers and principals, and those are the folks that have the relationships with our kids,” Muri said. “My job is really to empower them with the tools and the resources necessary, they see those children every single day, my job is to make sure that they’re equipped that they’re confident they work for a school system that supports them and values them and gives them the tools that they need, because they in turn will provide that support for our children.”

Hernandez played basketball at Odessa High. Her teammates spent the final hours of their long weekend decorating a tree on campus in her memory.

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