AJAX, Ont. — As classes resumed Monday morning at St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Ajax, principal David Malleau visited each classroom to address the absence of one teacher.
Paul Martin, who taught grades 5 and 6 at the elementary school of fewer than 200 students, remains in a Jamaican jail after allegedly trying to kill his wife, Cathy-Lee Martin, on Dec. 23.
The couple, who have two young children, were on vacation near Montego Bay, trying to mend a broken relationship, according to court testimony.
The school followed its normal routine Monday, said superintendent Tracy Barill, but staff did not avoid the subject with students.
“One of the things we try to do is stick to the facts about what we know and not speculate about what we don’t know,” Barill said. “Most of the kids were well aware of what has been reported in the media.”
Marcela Giguere, one of Martin’s Grade 6 students, said it was too difficult to be in class Monday so she spent most of the day talking to a counsellor.
“Every time I was in the classroom I would just think of him not being there,” she said. “He was the funniest teacher I’ve ever known. He always made us laugh.”
Marcela’s mother, Linda, said her daughter cried for hours when she first heard the news.
School officials also met with about 60 parents on Monday morning, where the board’s chief child psychologist, Ian Brown, answered questions and gave parents advice about how to talk to their children about what happened.
Social workers and child and youth counsellors were also on hand in to support students and assist teachers, Barill said.
Martin — who was denied bail last week — sits in a police lock-up in Jamaica, about 20 kilometres from the isolated coastal road where his wife testified he twice slashed her throat, tried to strangle her and accused her of having an affair.
“He is very concerned about his children, equally about his wife,” said Martin’s lawyer, Ernest Smith.
Cathy-Lee Martin, wearing a thick bandage around her neck, testified against her husband at a preliminary court hearing last week.
She returned home last Wednesday and is recovering from her injuries with her children and family.
Martin, 43, is expected to remain in jail until his next court appearance on Jan. 21.