Return date for Heritage & Huntington students announced as Newport News School Board finalizes re-entry safety plan after shooting

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Heritage High safety
Posted at 5:34 PM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 23:30:46-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Newport News School Board members announced a return date during Tuesday's meeting for both Huntington and Heritage High School students.

Huntington Middle School students will return on October 25, and Heritage High School students will return on October 27.

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“I’m ready to go back to school,” said Heritage High senior Imani Hayes. “I don’t like being in my room, and I miss being around people and the vibes and stuff.”  

Students at Heritage and Huntington haven’t been back in the building since chaos erupted inside the high school one month ago.

Police say a 15-year-old boy shot and injured two classmates on Sept. 20. Since then, kids have been learning virtually.

“I don’t like virtual at all,” said Heritage sophomore Cierra Guilford.

School board members decided Tuesday to move forward on a plan to keep students safe. It was approved by Superintendent Dr. George Parker.

At the last meeting Tuesday, Oct. 5, school board members discussed revising safety policies to return kids back to school, but there was no specific start date yet.

The security plan calls for six instead of four school security officers at Heritage and one at Huntington.

School leaders also agreed to ramp up random and required classroom and bookbag searches and using handheld metal detectors when kids step off the bus. Schools will also have more walk-thru metal detectors that’ll be used more often.

“I can understand the metal detectors, but the random checks... I feel like it’s necessary, but not that necessary,” said Guilford. “I mean, if you’re going to check us, just check us at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day.”

For Hayes and Guilford, this wasn’t how they expected to start a new school year.

“This is not how I wanted to spend my senior year, especially with COVID last year, but it is what it is,” said Hayes.

Guilford agreed.

“We’re not going to have the freedom that we used to have,” she said.

Giving up some of that freedom, however, is something they’re willing to do to stay safe and be back in the classroom with their friends.

“Even though it might be off a little bit when we go back to school, but once they get back normal, it’s going to be real good,” Hayes said.

“It’s going to be better,” added Guilford.

Administrators told News 3 the safety plan was carefully thought out with input from students, staff and parents, adding the measures will stay in place indefinitely.