IKEDA, Osaka Pref. — Three days after the fatal stabbing of eight schoolchildren at Osaka Kyoiku University Ikeda Elementary School, teachers began efforts Monday to prepare students to return to classes by first visiting them at home with mental health care counselors.
|Guards man a gate at Ikeda Elementary School in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, through which mass-slaying suspect Mamoru Takuma, 37, is believed to have entered the school to go on a stabbing spree Friday.|
Sixteen teacher-counselor pairs were dispatched to see schoolchildren at home on Monday afternoon in order to assess the children’s condition after experiencing Friday’s killings and to determine what is necessary to deal with the children’s posttraumatic stress from the incident, school principal Yoshio Yamane said.
Yamane told reporters that the teachers plan to visit all of the school’s roughly 680 students at home by Wednesday so that the teachers, consulting with the mental health care experts, can determine what is necessary to resume classes.
The school had initially planned to reopen Thursday, but postponed until at least next Monday because the mental scars of some children have been found to be serious.
“The children’s safety must be first secured,” said the vice principal, Katsumi Yano, who, with another male teacher, subdued the killer Mamoru Takuma on Friday.
Although security guards have been stationed since Monday at all gates of the elementary school and a neighboring junior high school and high school — both also attached to the university — the question remains whether the presence of such guards could have prevented Friday’s stabbing.
“I don’t know if the guards could have prevented the incident or if the lack of the security system was the reason for the incident,” Yano said. No matter how tight security is, he added, there could always be a danger of intruders.
The school now plans to hold a meeting for parents on Sunday, hopefully to be followed by the resumption of the classes Monday. But Yano said the plan is not inflexible as the home-visiting program may take longer than the three days scheduled.
“The resumption of the first- and second-grade classes may be further delayed,” he said, as Friday’s killing spree occurred in the classrooms of the first and second grades, and those children killed were first- and second-graders.
“We want to resume classes as early as possible. But we can never use the classrooms on the first floor (where the stabbings took place). . . . We hope the whole school will be renovated,” Yano said, adding that the scene of the crime should not be left as it is.
The school is considering using the facilities of the neighboring high school and junior high school as a temporary measure, he said.
Commenting on the killer’s remark that he killed the children because they were students of an elite school, Yano said that he did not want the school to be labeled simply as an elite school.
However, he added, “If ‘elite’ means children grow physically and mentally in good health, we want our students to be elite.”
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