Local schools will reopen Monday an hour later than usual following a two-day closure in the wake of two mass shootings Wednesday night in Lewiston that killed 18 people and left 13 injured.
Maine School Administrative District 75 interim Superintendent Heidi O’Leary posted a notice on the district’s Facebook page Friday night saying schools would be reopen Monday “with a one-hour delayed start time for students in each building.” MSAD 75 covers Harpswell, Topsham, Bowdoin and Bowdoinham.
“The sheriffs of Cumberland and Sagadahoc counties, along with the Topsham Chief of Police, have assured me they feel comfortable with this decision and will provide an increased police presence at all of our schools on Monday to help ease the transition back to the classroom,” O’Leary wrote.
A man opened fire at a bowling alley and later a bar/restaurant, both in Lewiston, on Wednesday, killing 18 people and wounding 13 others, according to The Associated Press. The shootings occurred at Just-In-Time Recreation, 24 Mollison Way, and Schemengees Bar & Grille, 551 Lincoln St., about four miles away.
It was the deadliest U.S. mass shooting so far in 2023 and the worst in Maine’s history, according to the Portland Press Herald.
With the help of surveillance footage, police quickly named 40-year-old Robert Card II, of Bowdoin, a person of interest in the shootings. More than 350 state and federal law enforcement officials participated in a manhunt for Card that led to the discovery of his body two days later in a cargo trailer at a former workplace Friday evening. Police believe Card took his own life.
Many government offices, businesses, schools and day care centers across the region were closed Thursday and Friday while Card’s whereabouts remained unknown. Residents in the region had been ordered to shelter in place.
In a post Friday to the Facebook page for Mt. Ararat High School, in Topsham, Principal Chris Hoffman said schools would use the extra hour on Monday morning to help staff reconnect and prepare for the school day.
“That day … will have a unique schedule with additional time in advisory groups,” Hoffman wrote. “We will also have support spaces and people set up throughout the building to help students who need to step away from class.”
He added: “I love our community, and I am hurting, just as I am sure you are, too. In the days to come, the full force of Wednesday night’s tragic violence will surely unfold in painful, confusing, and scarring ways. Our community has lost people that we love; many of our students are directly connected to this tragedy. Now is a time for us to show our love and support for one another unconditionally.”
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