Paris Teachers, Students Try to Return to Normalcy After Attacks


Today was the first day back to school for students after a series of terror attacks struck Paris leaving close to 130 dead.  Teachers will be faced with many questions by their students, as well as a range of emotions.

Simultaneous attacks took place in Paris on Friday night that injured 180 people and killing close to 130 inside restaurants and the Stade de France stadium.

The Paris City Hall website listed schools among the facilities closed Saturday in the wake of the terrorist attacks that occurred in the city on Friday.  Also on that list were libraries, markets, museums, sporting events and major tourist sites.  All that was left open for the day were civil registration offices to record marriages.

However, students and teachers returned to schools today in an attempt to continue their normal daily lives and sending a message of solidarity and strength to terrorists.  Huffpost France asked teachers in the area how they planned on handling the mix of questions and emotions their students would be bringing with them, writes Aftab Ali for The Independent.

High school teacher Marie-Sandrine spoke of the massive amounts of phone calls and emails she received from both former and current students wanting to make sure she was safe after the attacks.  She said that she planned on starting the school day with an open mind and asking her students if they would like to discuss what had happened, reports Sandra Lorenzo for The Huffington Post.

She noted discussions of the incident already taking form on social media, teachers’ forums, and over the phone.  She said that a number of resources had been made available to teachers by the minister of education to better prepare them for handling the topic with students, and that teachers should discuss holding a “moment of contemplation” rather than a “moment of silence.”

“Teenagers aren’t conscious of the fact that they could die. They don’t think about it like adults do. I’ll tell them that death is part of life,” she said.  If all of that is too heavy, we’ll stop…and then we’ll go on with class.”

Elementary teacher Juliette said that she would wait to see what her kindergartners would say concerning the events.  Instead of bringing the topic up herself, she said, “I won’t speak to them about it on the spot. I’m going to try to let the talking come from the children and try to respond to what they say. It will be necessary to listen to them.”

Middle school teacher Carine said she would handle the topic by allowing her students to openly express themselves and then to ask them to “step back and evaluate.”

Meanwhile, principal Phillipe Tournier said he believed a moment of silence to be the best way to offer compassion to victims of the attacks and their families.

Many schools held a minute of silence to honor those who died and were injured during the attacks.  That minute occurred at midday in France (11 GMT) with schools across Europe participating.