I know all of us are devastated by the horrific shooting in Connecticut Friday morning. We are heartbroken to think about the painful loss being felt in the Newton community this evening.
As we ponder this tragedy, I know we are all also thinking about our own school communities and work environments and what precautions can be taken to protect our students’ and staffs’ safety.
As you know, we hold regular emergency drills that include lockdown drills designed to prepare students and staff for any intruder situation on campus. All of our schools, and our district office, take preparation for any emergency very seriously and debrief after drills to ensure that staff and students understand what to do should they be faced with an emergency situation. Having regular drills is one of the best things we can do to ensure that staff and students can respond quickly when they need to. Additionally, we have sign-in procedures at each of our schools and our district office to monitor and screen visitors on campus. We have asked all staff to be extra vigilant in the coming week and we appreciate your cooperation in following all school procedures.
This horrific event will no doubt be seen by our students on various media as the days unfold and they will have many questions about what has happened and why. Students can feel unsettled as they try to make sense of an event that cannot be fathomed even by the adults around them. We wanted all of you to know that staff at all of our schools are prepared to assist you in any way we can should children need support. If your child is traumatized by this event, please talk to your principal or any member of your school staff (administrator, teacher, counselor, advisor, student outreach specialist or any other staff member with whom you are comfortable) and he/she will assist you in finding the support you need. All staff will keep a close eye on students for signs of stress during the coming week. Additionally, all principals have been provided with information about how to talk to children about violence and how to help them cope with these situations and these documents are available in English and Spanish.
In honor of the victims, President Obama has directed that flags be flown at half-staff until sunset, December 18. As we head into Winter Break, please know that we are here as a school and district community to support each other during difficult times such as these. I know you all join me in expressing our heartfelt condolences for all those who have experienced a loss as result of this tragedy.