Nanaimo school officials say its students and chaperones are safe in Nice, France but they are now watching for signs of trauma after some from the group witnessed the deadly attack. Dale Burgos, director of communications at the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District, said he’s been told some students were less than 30 metres away from the scene of the incident. “There were some very, very close and had witnessed the attack,” he said. “Obviously very troubling.” About 85 students and 12 adult chaperones from the Nanaimo area were on a school-related trip to Nice, where a terrorist attack during Bastille Day celebrations killed at least 84 people and injured many more.
Some students and teachers are now feeling “a bit of stress” but Burgos says the district is doing what it can to take care of the group. “We’re asking our teachers out there to make sure they keep an eye out on them,” he said. “We’ve given them instructions on signs of trauma — what to look for, and if we have to, we’ll send counselors out as soon as we can.” Burgos says school principals met yesterday to call parents and reassure them their children had all been accounted for. He said although many had already been in touch with their kids, parents were still “pretty shaken.” The student-teacher contingent is believed to have left Nice on a day trip. They were supposed to head to Spain next as part of the cultural learning trip and return to Vancouver Island on July 25.
The school district has been updating its website and Twitter with information and their next steps. In a tweet, Premier Christy Clark said news of the attack is “horrible” and she is thinking of all those involved and their families.