By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM,
PUPILS who witnessed the shooting of their teachers in a remote part of a village in Valencia City, Bukidnon, underwent trauma session so they could process the ordeal they have experienced, a Department of Education official said Friday.
Dr. Victoria Gazo, district school superintendent of Valencia, said a team of educators with psychosocial skills went to Dalit Elementary School in Sitio Dalit in Barangay Lumbayao to conduct a one-day debriefing session for students there.
The school is situated in a community of about a hundred households with four multi-grade teachers handling 51 students.
She said the debriefing facilitators were fielded on Wednesday, a day after four armed men barged into the classroom of ZhydeeCabañelez searching for her teacher-husband Ramil and shot her several times in front of her class.
According to police, Cabañelez was shot to her shoulder and legs while Ramil was unharmed.
During the session, the team asked the kids to draw what they had experienced to assess their emotional level following the incident.
The facilitators noted that many of the participants made drawing depicting sadness, she said.
“These drawings that indicate sadness reflect the pupils’ longing for their teacher (Cabañelez). Many of them told facilitators they missed her,” Gazo said.
Aside from the students, the parents also took part in the debriefing.
“Both children and parents were very responsive during the session. The parents were there so they could help us in handling their children’s trauma,” Gazo said.
She said it is important for parents to report to school authorities if they noticed their children are acting strangely so Deped could help them cope with trauma.
Gazo said she has also ordered Dalit teachers to defer the periodical tests so their pupils could take an early semestral break.
“I don’t think it’s proper for the children to take the exams considering what they have just experienced. It’s best that they should rest and enjoy the one-week break,” she added.
Gazo admitted that this was the first time that such an incident happened under her watch.
“We were shocked at what happened. But we still want to send the message that our schools are peace zones,” she said.
After the shooting, Gazo said she has requested the village officials of Lumbayao to assign civilian volunteers to keep watch over the four-classroom campus.
She said she has also asked parents to escort the teachers to and from the school.
Meanwhile, Gazo said Cabañelez and her husband are still on official leave while she is recovering from her gunshot wounds.