Townville Elementary students return to school Thursday - FOX Carolina 21

Townville Elementary students return to school Thursday

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A memorial outside Townville Elementary School. (Sep. 29, 2016/FOX Carolina) A memorial outside Townville Elementary School. (Sep. 29, 2016/FOX Carolina)
TOWNVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Students at Townville Elementary School head back to class on Thursday for the first time since a shooting on the school’s playground claimed one student’s life and injured three other people.

Deputies said a 14-year-old armed with a gun traveled to the school after shooting and killing his father, Jeffrey Osborne, on Sept. 28. Investigators said the teen jumped a fence at the school and began opening fire on the school playground. Three students and a teacher were injured.

One of the injured students, six-year-old Jacob Hall, died on Oct. 1 after three days on life support. Funeral services for Jacob were held on Wednesday.

Anderson County District 4 Superintendent Joanne Avery said teachers returned to work at Townville Elementary on Monday and counselors instructed them on how best to answer questions from children and shape lesson plans in wake of the tragedy.

“On Thursday, we are encouraging all Anderson 4 schools and the community to be ‘Townville Strong’ by wearing the school colors, red and black in support of the staff and students at Townville,” Avery stated on Facebook.

Parents are also welcome to have breakfast with their children at the school.

“We are striving, to the extent possible, to make the return to school as normal as possible,” Avery said. “We will run a car line but parents are welcomed to eat breakfast with their children.”

Avery said counselors will be on hand to speak with parents and students, Therapy dogs will also visit all classrooms on Thursday and Friday mornings. There will also be a heavier law enforcement presence both inside and out of the school.

“We want our children to feel safe, but we don’t want the additional police presence to scare them,” Avery said. “We are attempting to find a healthy balance. The support from the Anderson Sheriff's Office has been deeply appreciated as we bridge the gap until we are able to place an SRO in this school in the upcoming weeks.”

Avery said people from around the world have reached out to the school in wake of the deadly violence, many wishing to provide funding for a new playground area. Avery said a new website, townvillestrong.com, had been created in response to those requests.

Avery asked for continued prayers and students and staff settle back in for the rest of the school year.

She released the following statement after the return to school:

This morning students at Townville Elementary returned to school for the first
time since the tragic shooting on Wednesday, September 28. The day began with
classroom visits from counselors and therapy dogs, which provided for lots of
smiles and calmed the nerves of both teachers and students.

As Superintendent, I am pleased that there were only ten absences. Our parents
demonstrated resilience, trust, and support for our Townville community school.
We thank them for their faith in us and our ability to protect their children.
We appreciate the support of area counselors, therapy dogs, law enforcement
officers, first responders, and pastors who were onsite to help parents, teachers
and students today. We will continue to provide these services until there is no
longer a need for them.

Beginning today, there is a law enforcement presence both inside and outside of
the school. We want our children to feel safe, but we don’t want the additional
police presence to scare them. We are attempting to find a healthy balance. The
support from the Anderson Sheriff's Office is deeply appreciated as we bridge the
gap until we are able to place a permanent SRO in this school in the upcoming
weeks.

Many of you have asked how you can donate or how your money might be used
in a meaningful way. As many of you know, the incident took place next to the
playground where children were playing. To help with the healing, we would like
to create a play area in a new location and use the existing playground area for a
tranquility park in honor of Jacob Hall and the other victims. Several donations
have already been received by the Townville Fire Department as well as the
website “Townvillestrong.com.”

FULL COVERAGE: Townville shooting

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