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Aurora shootings: Students and school staff grapple with a “growing crisis”

The shootings have caused additional strain in a school community that, like others across the country, has been navigating a tumultuous period defined by the COVID pandemic and activism around social justice issues

Three students were shot in the parking lot of Hinkley High School, 1250 Chambers Road, Aurora, CO on Friday November 19, 2021. This image depicts students, a parent, and school staff outside the north entrance after the lockdown was lifted. (Jeremy Sparig, Special to The Colorado Sun)

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More at chalkbeat.org.

When classes resume Monday in Aurora Public Schools, psychologist Brittany Greiert won’t be at the elementary and middle school where she normally works. Instead, she’ll be at Hinkley High School, where three teens were shot and injured in the parking lot Friday.

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She and the rest of the district’s crisis response team will check in on the injured students’ close friends, relatives, and teachers. Counselors will be available to meet with any student who wants to talk, and they’ll provide talking points to teachers who want to discuss the incident in class.

Greiert did something similar last week at Aurora Central High School after six students were injured in a drive-by shooting at a nearby park. At Central, Greiert’s job was to support the teachers in the building who witnessed the shooting — sometimes with an act as simple as offering to watch their classes for a few minutes so they could take a break.

“Unfortunately this year all of our crisis teams have been very busy,” Greiert said.

The shootings have caused additional strain in a school community that, like others across the country, has been navigating a tumultuous period defined by the COVID pandemic and activism around social justice issues. School districts in cities such as ChicagoPhiladelphia, and Memphis also have grappled with how to respond to youth gun violence.

In Aurora, the police chief and other city leaders have called the recent violence a public health crisis. The Denver Post reported that seven teens were shot in Aurora in the three weeks before the shooting near Aurora Central. Three of them died from their injuries.

Read more at chalkbeat.org.