Lac-Mégantic schools ready for students after derailment
'Return to normal' a relative term in town devastated by train derailment
School board officials in Lac-Mégantic, Que., say they are taking extra care to prepare for a new school year in their community, in the wake of the July 6 train derailment and explosions that left 47 dead and many more grieving.
The return to school allows children "to say, 'My life is getting back to normal,'" says Bernard Lacroix, executive-director of the Hauts-Cantons school board.
"Normal" is a relative term now in the devastated community.
Following the disaster, the local high school was turned into an emergency shelter, and one of the elementary schools became the command post for provincial police.
A second elementary school became the venue for some of the funerals, since one of the town's main funeral homes was also destroyed in the explosions and fire triggered by the derailment.
Lacroix says the subject of the disaster can't be avoided, so teachers have been taught how to address it.
"We have to be able to talk about it, but not to put the emphasis on the tragedy," Lacroix said. "We want to reassure them."
Teachers have been given tools to help them spot post-traumatic stress and other problems, and counsellors will be on hand to offer support.
"That's what I was hoping," said parent Malerie Corson. "Everyone was asking us, 'How are you? How are you? How are you? And how's your family?'"
"But nobody asked the children how they were."