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Staff and students offered choice of returning to Racette 2

Division will not force students to return where deadly incident occured

Dec 04, 2012 12:00 pm | Janice Huser

Students of Racette Junior High School will be given the option of returning to Racette 2 after the Christmas break, a decision made following a closed meeting held last week with parents.

Heather Starosielski, vice-chair of the St. Paul Education Regional Division board, said the Nov. 27 meeting was kept closed to the public due to the sensitive nature of what was being discussed. All SPERD trustees were in attendance at the meeting.

“We do have a plan in place,” said Starosielski, adding the division is hoping to offer students flexibility and choice following their displacement from Racette 2 on Oct. 25, when a van crashed into a Grade 6 classroom, killing one student and seriously injuring two others.

Since the incident, students have been attending classes at St. Paul Regional High School; however, space there is very limited.

The original Racette School is currently undergoing major modernizations and will not be ready for students to move in until spring.

Prior to the meeting, Starosielski said the division met with counselors and trauma experts to decide how to deal with the situation and move forward.

“We are not in any way making anyone go back,” said Starosielski. Racette 2 will technically be ready before Christmas, but the division has decided to wait until after the holidays to offer staff and students the option of moving back into the school.

Although the details are still being worked out, staff will be available at both the Regional High School and Racette 2 to accommodate students, and the division will be approaching the province for support of additional staffing and counseling that might be needed.

Some parents want children to return to a regular school atmosphere at Racette 2, while others are against having their children return to the school, said Starosielski, adding that all the Grade 6 students that were in the classroom where the incident occurred have decided to stay at Regional High School.

“They will stay at Regional and we respect that . . . Everybody has a personal journey where they’re at in this process.” The division will allow staff and students to move forward at their own pace, she said.

The situation will continue to be reassessed as time moves forward, said Starosielski, and the division will hold more meetings as they continue to listen to parents’ feedback.

Last week, Supt. Glen Brodziak said he was in the process of writing a letter to Racette parents regarding the meeting and the plan moving forward. That letter, he said, should be sent home with students this week.

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Long journey of treatment
Two girls continue to receive treatment in Edmonton in the wake of the Oct. 25 Racette School crash.
Eleven-year-old Megan Wolitski succumbed to injuries she received following the incident that saw a van plunge into a Grade 6 classroom, which also left students Maddie Guitard and Angelina Luce with critical injuries.
In response to questions from the community about the recovery of the young girls, the Luce family released the following statement to the public about their daughter.
“Alongside Angelina, we are still grieving the loss of a young, beautiful member of our community. We are also holding in our prayers the recovery of another little girl who is fighting.
“Our daughter has started the long road to recovery. As some of you know, Angelina experienced a very serious head injury as a result of this tragic incident. We have been told that head injuries are unpredictable and recovery can take many years.
“The months, and possibly years, ahead will involve many days away from home for testing, specialist appointments... and a lot of uncertainty. We are working with a variety of professionals to ensure we are doing all we can to create the space for Angelina to slowly and carefully integrate back into her community and her life.
“Although we are all looking forward to having Angelina back home, we ask that you help us by giving us the space and the quiet privacy we need to undertake this recovery as best we can.
“We are blessed to be a part of your community. Thank you for your concern and support.”
Alberta Health Services (AHS) has indicated there will be no further updates on the health or recovery of the two girls at this time.

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