By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
The National Compassion Fund (NCF) released the final protocol for the Oxford High School Survivors Fund on Tuesday, March 29.
Completed after a public comment window and a March 21 town hall, the protocol expands the affected area to include all of the 200 hallway from room 211 to the bathroom west of room 258. Students and staff in over 30 rooms can now apply for a monetary gift, compared to only people in the 200 hallway and select rooms. While the initial idea was that the shooting occurred strictly in halls and bathrooms, discussions with victims revealed classrooms were shot into.
“Based on that information, the steering committee expanded the area to include those rooms,” Jeff Dion, NCF executive director, said. “Direct exposure [to violence] is often times very much involved in the trauma people experience, but everybody is different. What we based [the final protocol] on was not the impact people received but where the gunman was, where people would see people getting shot, [where people] would see blood … where people were being shot at and [were] at imminent risk of being killed.”
The final protocol’s award categories are the families of students killed, the students and teacher shot and anyone with psychological trauma that was in the affected area or “rendered direct assistance to a gunshot victim, or otherwise took extraordinary action which prevented loss of life.”
“What we did not understand when we first drew [the designated area] was that there were people who performed some of those acts that were never in the zone because some of the wounded ran from the zone and ran out of the building and collapsed, and that is where people helped them,” Dion said. “We wanted to make sure we recognized that. We were not trying to exclude any of those folks.”
People seeking a gift under the psychological trauma category need documented proof of ongoing mental health treatment with multiple sessions completed as of Thursday, May 5 and proof they were in the designated area on Nov. 30. Dion says the NCF is in contact with qualifying people and has ways of verifying where they were, though applicants will need to sign documents like medical release forms and school information release forms. Mental health treatment visit verification requires a notarized affidavit.
Applications will be published on April 15 and are due on May 6. The fund will stop receiving donations on May 20 and gift distribution begins June 17. The NCF is working with the All for Oxford Resiliency Center to help victims complete applications.
By Dean Vaglia