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Superintendent Bice: Support being provided for those affected in Dale Co.

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MIDLAND CITY, AL (WSFA) -

Alabama Department of Education Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice says steps are being taken to support those directly affected by the death of a school bus driver and the child taken hostage for nearly a week.

Dr. Bice said Thursday that several plans are also in the works to honor slain bus driver Charles Poland, Jr. Information will be released as soon as final arrangements are made with his family.

Poland was shot and killed by Midland City, Alabama resident Jimmy Lee Dykes on January 29, 2013. Dykes then took hostage a young boy named "Ethan" and held him in an underground bunker for nearly a week before being killed in a gunfight with FBI agents who stormed the bunker. The child was physically unharmed.

Dr. Bice said representatives of his department have been in Dale County since the beginning of the crisis and "We provided additional personnel at all of the schools when the students returned to class yesterday [Wednesday]."

Bice says the Dale County School system began addressing the needs of students and families directly involved in the incident last Thursday through debriefing sessions with local professionals. Bice said the services were not publicized "to avoid any outside interference" and in order to provide those affected with "a secure environment to begin the healing process." All Dale County administrators and counselors were also given debriefing and support sessions to prepare them to support their students, parents and faculty and staff.

Bice said concerns about makeup days for the Dale County School system will be addressed, but it's not a priority this week.

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