BOULDER, Colo. — Before the learning can resume, students must feel safe in school.
That's according to Nick Vanderpol, principal at Foothill Elementary School in Boulder.
"While we remember that everything is well and good now, it's not normal, right?" Vanderpol said. "We didn't want to treat today like it was just another school day, but I think the challenge in that is you want to create a sense of normalcy."
Foothill Elementary School was one of more than 1,000 across the state that was closed Wednesday following a massive manhunt for a Florida woman who the FBI believed was making credible threats against metro area schools.
The 18-year-old was found Wednesday morning in the Mt. Evans area, dead from a single gunshot wound. Authorities said they believe she took her own life.
At his school in Boulder, Vanderpol had students focus on uplifting messages and images as they decorated the school's sidewalk. Third grade teacher Natalie Warshaw had students blow bubbles to send "good thoughts" into the world.
"Kids need some different avenues to process what happened yesterday and for them to focus on the positives," Warshaw said.
Vanderpol said his fifth grade students talked about their emotions in class.
"They were going around and talking about a one-word descriptor about how they felt about yesterday," Vanderpol said.
Foothill Elementary wasn't alone. At Ashley Elementary School in Denver, students tied ribbons to a sign they made that spelled "Love" outside of the school. In Douglas County, Staff at Sage County Elementary joined members of the Castle Rock Police Department in creating positive messages on the sidewalk outside of that school.
Vanderpol says no matter the age, students needed this kind of support one day after the threat even if they don't really understand why they may be feeling stressed.
"I think if we can sort of help them name it and then replace it and what is better to replace it than with a message of positivity and kindness," Vanderpol said.
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