Woodson Fire Follow-Up

Woodson Fire Follow-Up

Garza, school reveal what’s next.

In the aftermath of Friday’s chemical fire at Woodson High, both Superintendent Karen Garza and Principal Scott Poole sent messages Monday to the parents. Stressing that the “safety of students and staff is always the top priority in our schools,” Garza directed the following actions be taken:

  • Immediately stop using any open flames in all FCPS science classrooms, until further notice;

  • Conduct a thorough review of FCPS science curriculum;

  • Review current guidance to FCPS science teachers to ensure all concepts are taught in the safest possible manner and setting; and

  • Require science safety updates for all FCPS high school science teachers, beginning immediately, and require all those teachers to complete them by the end of the semester.

“We will do everything we possibly can to ensure that this never happens again,” said Garza. “We are encouraged by the news from families of the Woodson students injured in Friday’s accident that their children are in good spirits. Our continued thoughts and hopes are with them as they continue the road to recovery. The strength and good will of the FCPS family has been clearly demonstrated over the past few days and is greatly appreciated by the Woodson community.”

In Poole’s Nov. 2 message to parents, he advised them of the support and resources available to the students in the days and weeks to come. “We know that students may have varying reactions to the trauma of this event,” he wrote. “The faculty and staff at Woodson will do all we can to support your student as he or she returns to school.”

Counselors, social workers and psychologists were on hand Wednesday, Nov. 4, in the school library for students and teachers wishing to speak to a counselor or clinician. Poole also offered parents the following suggestions for establishing a sense of security and safety to help their children cope with a crisis situation:

  • Provide emotional support and reassure them about their safety;

  • Limit exposure to social networks and TV news;

  • Be honest about what happened, providing facts and answering questions;

  • Help students avoid information based on rumors and gossip to avoid greater fear and confusion;

  • Encourage children to talk about their feelings;

  • Help children identify their support group, such as family or friends, who can help them process information;

  • Repetitive discussion of the situation may traumatize or re-traumatize a student. Allow the student to broach the subject as needed;

  • Watch for ongoing signs of difficulty which could indicate the student may need additional help. These include withdrawal from social contact, change in eating or sleeping habits, nightmares and unusual clinging;

  • Parents concerned about their children should contact their school counselor, psychologist or social worker.

“At Woodson, we stand ready to do all we can to support your student,” wrote Poole. “Please let us know how we can help. Call the school counselor, psychologist, social worker or Donna Piscitelli, interim director of Student Services.”