Although schools will be closed tomorrow for the President’s day holiday, Mary Walter Elementary School and Liberty High School will open their doors to provide counseling for students and parents affected by the shooting deaths of Jennifer Norwood, 34, and her son 6-year-old son Wyatt. Wyatt was a first grader at Mary Walter.
Wyatt’s brother, 17-year-old Levi Norwood, is accused of fatally shooting his mother and brother at their Midland home on Friday night, Feb. 14. He was apprehended in North Carolina Saturday afternoon.
Frank Finn, Fauquier’s assistant superintendent for student services and special education, spoke at a press conference Sunday about what the school division will be doing to support students and staff. He said the school team met this morning to finalize plans to ensure that counselors would be available to answer questions and work through the tragedy.
He and school division spokeswoman Tara Helkowski said after the press conference that Alex O’Dell, principal at Mary Walter in Morrisville, will talk with families at the school from 10 to 11 a.m. Following, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., counselors and social work staff will be available to work with students and parents.
Liberty High School in Bealeton will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., when counselors will be available to speak with parents and students in the Eagle room and the library. Sam Cox is Liberty's principal.
Helkowski said that each school community may have different emotions to deal with. Mary Walter students and parents will be dealing with the loss of a classmate and neighbor. At Liberty, the feelings may be different, since the accused killer was a student at the school.
Helkowski said that on Tuesday, a school day, extra central office staff will be at both schools, offering help wherever needed. “We will also have extra substitutes on hand, to offer teachers extra support.”
She added that staff will gather after the school day on Tuesday to reassess needs. “It has been such a traumatic event for our whole county,” she said. “It’s possible other schools will need counseling services too.”
Helkowski said that she will be emailing resources to parents that may help as they process the deaths of their neighbors. Printed copies of those resources will be available tomorrow at the schools as well.
School activities were suspended Saturday afternoon, but when Levi Norwood was captured soon after, the schools were reopened for normal activities.