Schools return to therapy dogs, clear backpacks

Deputy Oxford, a new therapy dog with the sheriff’s office, visited Oxford Middle School Jan. 4. Photo by Oxford Township

By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
All district schools besides the high school returned to class Jan. 3 after winter break. 88% of DK-8, Bridges, OVA and Crossroads students were in attendance, according to Superintendent Tim Throne.
Each building had law enforcement, trauma specialists and therapy dogs on site. The trauma specialists and dogs will continue for the rest of the school year. Oxford Middle School has also received its own school resource officer from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office who will be stationed at the school for the rest of the year.
Accompanying the new SRO last week was “Deputy Oxford” a nine-week-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel assigned to the Oxford Township substation. “This new little guy is going to give lots of loves and comfort to the people of the community,” Sheriff Mike Bouchard said.
The therapy dog was sponsored by Clarkston Athletics with funds raised from selling limited-time t-shirts and yard signs to benefit the Oxford community. The custom design reads: “CLARKSTON” with the ‘C’ and the ‘O’ emphasized as varsity letters. Below are the words “Blue and Gold United” and below that is the hashtag #OxfordStrong. (Clarkston and Oxford both share a blue and gold team colors.)
Clarkston High School recently adopted its own therapy pup, “Deputy Indy” assigned to Independence Substation, and wanted Oxford to have one too.

All middle and high school students are getting their own clear backpacks when they return to school. They can choose from two different styles. Photo provided by OCS.

“Our wish is that Deputy Oxford will help to bring hope and healing for all students, staff, families, first responders and members of the entire Oxford community,” Clarkston Athletics posted on its Facebook page. “He will be making visits to all schools and throughout Oxford. If he’s anything like our Deputy Indy, Oxford will be in good hands (paws.)”
Another change for the middle school students was the mandatory use of clear backpacks. Members of the community donated enough backpacks for every middle and high school student to have one. High school students will also be required to use them when they return. Elementary students, meanwhile, are allowed to continue using their usual backpacks.
According to the district website, “With OHS not ready to be fully opened yet, we have created a two week alternate hybrid schedule for our Oxford Middle School and Bridges students in order to share the OMS building with our high school students and staff.”
The alternate hybrid schedule started Monday and runs through January 21.
Renovations to OHS are scheduled to be completed during the week of January 17. The tentative plan is to host three open house opportunities for OHS students and families to visit the high school together before transitioning back to the building the week of January 24.

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