CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The dark and rainy weather Tuesday night in Charlottesville reflected the mood of grieving University of Virginia students, coaches and teachers.
University leaders canceled classes again Tuesday, as the community still grapples with the loss of three of their own. D’Sean Perry, Lavel Davis Jr. and Devin Chandler, all three UVA football players.
"This is an unimaginably sad day for our community. The entire university community is grieving this morning," UVA President Jim Ryan said during Monday's news conference.
He acknowledged the long grieving process ahead.
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The university is offering extended counseling resources and spaces to gather together. The Office of Student Affairs has set up a resource page with up-to-date information on future opportunities for walk-in counseling sessions.
Students may call Counseling and Psychological Services at 434-243-5150, 24/7. Students can also access TimelyCare to speak with a counselor by video or phone, at no charge, 24 hours a day.
Ryan is also opening his own door at Carr's Hill from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. every day this week for people to have a place to gather.
His latest email update said classes will resume Wednesday on a normal schedule. However, students will not have to complete any graded assignments or take exams before Thanksgiving break.
Ryan is also asking faculty to be lenient with attendance and other assignments.
Local Charlottesville psychologist Amanda Sovik-Johnston said that will lift a big burden off students' shoulders.
"They’re scared right now and we know that when people are scared, they can’t focus, they can’t concentrate, they can’t perform in the way that they want to," the Virginia Family Therapy CEO said.
She said she heard about the shooting and lockdown about an hour before she was supposed to take her own children to school Monday morning. Sovik-Johnston said they were all terrified and confused.
She said the aftermath of a tragedy like this leaves young people feeling disoriented.
"They’re going to have a full range of emotions. Sometimes at the same time, sometimes at different times, and it’s really important for them to know that all of those emotions are okay and normal."
As students return home for the holidays, Sovik-Johnston wants families to know that although they might want to ask a lot of questions and hold their children tight, you need to let them grieve in their own way. That could include wanting to go out with friends who can understand what they're going through.
"They’re going be with the people they love the most and the people that make them feel the most safe, but also people that didn’t go through this trauma with them," she said. "It's going to be really important that the college students remember to check in with their community and plug in with the people who experienced this trauma alongside them."
Sovik-Johnston again emphasized the wide array of emotions and behaviors students might be experiencing, and she encourages parents to be patient.
"I think many parents are going to feel so worried about their kids that they're going to want to interpret anything into any of their behavior and parents might get themselves worked up with their own anxieties," she said. "Initially, the next one to two weeks, almost any behavior goes."
If they're having a hard time sleeping, having nightmares, having panic attacks, avoiding their feelings by drinking a lot, or sleeping all the time three to four weeks after this tragedy, that's when she said it might be time to seek some mental health resources.
UVA President Ryan also noted in his email the university is working on planning a community-wide memorial with more details to come.
He also thanked the student council for the “powerful” candlelight vigil held Monday night on the South Lawn.