Students at West Independent School District, in West, Texas, returned to school today for the first time since the fertilizer plant explosion that killed fourteen people and wounded about 200 others.
Counselors and therapy dogs are on hand to support students struggling to deal with the aftermath of the blast.
Elementary school students, pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, are attending West Elementary School, which is just outside the blast zone. Middle and high school students are being bussed to a nearby Connally ISD building after the explosion damaged or destroyed the West school buildings. Volunteers and staff spent three days cleaning and stocking temporary classrooms.
Stand-by teachers have also been staffed to take over classes if needed.
West ISD Superintendent Dr. Marty Crawford says it's a reflection of the town's resilience.
"Our town’s going to become stronger than it was and our district was already good, but we’re going to wind up having an excellent school district by the time we get back to normal, so really proud of our staff, faculty, and our students," Crawford said.
Students are being allowed to attend the memorial planned for first responders Thursday at the Ferrell Center at Baylor University in Waco. Currently, there are plans to schedule an early release for students that day.
The White House has announced President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will be in attendance.
Crawford says he is appreciative of the tremendous outpouring of support seen from educators across the state, volunteers and state agencies.
When asked what the public can do to help, Crawford asked to be kept in thoughts and prayers, as he says the district is "swamped with school supplies."
You can submit monetary donations to Point West Bank & Trust (254) 826-5333 or State National Bank (254) 826-3741.