HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – 5-year-old Summer Wells has been missing for 25 days, but Hawkins County Schools will reopen in one month.
Officials said Summer was registered to begin kindergarten at Joseph Rogers Primary School on August 9.
News Channel 11 spoke with the school district’s psychologist about what they are doing to prepare not only the teachers but parents and students as well.
Carole Fuller, a Hawkins County Schools psychologist, says additional resources will be provided to help counselors work with students and even parents who have heightened anxiety after the disappearance of the 5-year-old in their community.
“Obviously, we don’t want to do anything that would pull more attention or create more anxiety on one of the parents or the students, but we’re going to try to get information to school counselors because that’s usually in a school, the one that students go to if they have a concern or worry,” Fuller explained.
CONTINUING COVERAGE: The Search for Summer Wells
She also had tips for parents to look out for as the new school year begins.
“Also the parents are welcome to contact the school counselor at their school if they notice little changes in behavior, with certain things because a lot of times, younger students can’t tell us ‘I’m upset about,’ ‘I’m worried about’. They may not be eating the same, sleeping the same, toileting accidents, stomach aches, things like that. And we’re also going to try to get some information out to teachers to kind of do work looking for these subtle changes that they might notice,” she said.
In a month, Summer’s brothers will be joining the other kids of Hawkins County in returning to school.
“They’re changing schools so they’re going to be mixing with new kids, and we’ll just want the school counselor, the teachers to kind of, you know, make sure they’re not having any issues that we need to really assist with either but through the school counselor, through myself or the other, you know staff school psychologists or whatever we can do to help,” Fuller said.
She added that this academic year will look different from those in the past.
“You know, last year we dealt with COVID with only a limited number of students in the buildings for probably half the year and then everybody back. I’m sure there will be some additional anxiety on the part of parents and students, but we’re gonna try to do what we can to alleviate that and make everybody feel comfortable,” Fuller said.
Fuller also said that if Summer happens to be found or returned before the school year, there are plans in place to welcome her to kindergarten in the fall.
“Depending on what she would need we can always look at different things as far as the school goes and then counselors, outside resources, we can tap into whatever we needed to make her comfortable and it feels like school,” Fuller said.