NORTH BEND — In an effort to support students, North Bend High School reopened its doors on Tuesday after a tragic event over the weekend.
On Sunday night 17-year-old Ian Spalding, a junior at North Bend High School, fell off rocks near Norton Gulch and has not been seen since. Crews including the Coast Guard, Charleston fire and rescue and the Coos County Sheriff’s office searched on Sunday night and Monday before officials suspended the search on Monday afternoon.
Divers were deployed on Tuesday morning and friends and family continued searching.
Hoping to provide students with support, North Bend High School established online student supports on Monday and invited students to its care rooms in-person on Tuesday.
“In response to this tragic event, we reached out to staff, parents and students virtually and in writing to do our best to support them. This afternoon we offered a virtual care room hosted by a few of our counselors and school psychologists,” said North Bend School District superintendent Kevin Bogatin in an email on Monday.
“We will have high school and crisis counselors available, along with staff to support students as they express their worry and grief. Food will be provided at noon for students still on campus.”
North Bend High School received word from the state that allowed the school to open its doors. With a couple dozen students at school at any given time, the goal was to be a place of comfort for students.
“Well, for us it’s just trying to be a positive presence. Letting them know that we recognize the need to grieve right now,” said North Bend Principal Darrell Johnston. “When somebody is missing, that’s grief. You know, and you miss them and we acknowledge that. The message is that it’s OK to experience pain and it’s OK to talk to somebody about it.”
With students receiving support, Johnston noted that there is an extra layer of difficulty with students not all being on campus.
“Well, of course these are really challenging times and it’s tough facing them without the support of school,” he said. “They do still have their family, of course, but under normal circumstances kids are able to access counselors, grief and support rooms.”
Because this event is occurring during COVID-19, the school has made adjustments to ensure the safety of students.
“We’ve got extra hand wash stations, we’ve got masks available for everybody. We’re doing what we can to maintain our personal protective equipment and social distancing while still bringing kids in and working to support their mental health and emotional needs,” said Johnston.
The school will be open to students on Wednesday from noon to 3 p.m.
North Bend High School’s graduation will still be on Friday evening.