Students hug at a memorial at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich., Dec. 1, 2021.  (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
Students hug at a memorial at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich., Dec. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

From wearing clear backpacks to having their social media monitored, Oxford High School students have had to bear the brunt of changes following a shooting at their school. Meanwhile, Michigan Democrats are working to bring change to keep everyone safe. 

OXFORD, Mich.—Oxford High School students on Monday returned to school for the first time since Nov. 30, when a classmate opened fire in the high school, killing four students and injuring several others. 

While classes have yet to return to the high school building itself, students will be taught at Oxford Middle School and Oxford Bridges High School until the high school reopens Jan. 24

Outside of a change in location, the school district has implemented other safety measures ahead of the return of students. But while local officials do what they can to ensure the safety of those in their classrooms, there is still a lot that hasn’t changed at the state level. 

COMMENTARY: I Grew Up in a Second Amendment Home. But These Are the Questions I’m Asking After Oxford’s Deadly Shooting.

Students See New Rules

Students at the Oxford Community School district will be going to class without the use of backpacks for some time, according to a list of temporary safety measures announced in December 2021 by the district’s board of education. In the future, that guidance changes to promoting the use of clear backpacks. 

What else has the district said it would implement? Students can expect to see added police presence—at least temporarily. According to The Detroit News, beyond the school resource officer and armed security guard already employed by the district, the schools will be working with private security firms to hire a security officer for every building. 

The district also plans to monitor student social media activity, according to a report. Using tools such as Gaggle and GoGaurdian—online monitoring programs that allow schools to surveil student activity on school devices. 

Local officials also are implementing ways to help students as they deal with the trauma that comes with being a part of a school shooting. The district plans to put a trauma counselor in each of its buildings for short-term and long-term support. It also plans to use therapy dogs for students. 

RELATED: ‘Children Are Already Aware’: Here’s Why You Should Talk to Your Kids About Oxford

Change on the Horizon? 

While students, some as young as 14, bear the brunt of changes implemented following the Nov. 30 shooting at Oxford High School, state lawmakers continue to announce broad legislation that could change how people accused in school shootings are prosecuted. 

But what does that look like in the classroom? More thoughts, love, and prayers, according to some Michigan lawmakers. 

“Thoughts and love and prayers don’t go far enough,” Sen. Rosemary Bayer, a Democrat whose district includes Oxford High School, said upon introducing the legislation that would prohibit the sale or possession of gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

Aiming to do more than offer verbal assurance that what happened in Oxford won’t happen again, Bayer and other Michigan Democrats have begun the process of introducing legislation that would help make that the case. 

US Rep. Elissa Slotkin said she would introduce legislation requiring that guns be stored safely and out of reach of children.

The legislation would require gun owners to secure their weapons safely. If their weapon was used by someone to injure themselves or others, it would mean they could be charged with a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison. 

“Everyone’s priority is to keep our kids safe and it’s clear there’s a gap in law that makes it hard to hold parents accountable for aiding their child in committing a crime with a gun,” Slotkin said when she announced the legislation.

The law mirrors a similar bill introduced by Bayer in June 2021.

Democrats have introduced these bills while lawmakers on the other side of the aisle have suggested that safety measures take away from US “freedoms.”

“If we get obsessed with eliminating all risks, we will then develop and evolve into a country we won’t recognize because we’ll also have no freedoms,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said after the shooting, according to The Associated Press. “It’s a balance. It’s a very narrow road. It is hard. These kind of events keep those thoughts in mind.”

MORE: Oxford HS Shooting Could Affect How Future Gun Violence is Punished