Superintendent Sue Walker of the Shoreline School District has released the following in the aftermath of the school shooting in Newtown, CT. It was released on Friday, Dec. 14:
On behalf of Shoreline Schools, our hearts go out to the community of Newtown, Connecticut, and especially to the staff, students and families of Sandy Hook Elementary School. It’s difficult to comprehend the motivation for the horrific attack that took place this morning.
We have worked hard over the past few years to develop our building emergency preparedness plans. We have practiced and trained to respond with confidence. Our plans have been developed in coordination with our local police and fire departments. In short, we have prepared extensively. Emergency Response Information flip charts are posted in common areas and classrooms across the District.
Nevertheless, the random nature of a sudden mass shooting can make us feel very vulnerable, particularly when innocent, vulnerable children are targeted. As we try to cope with this reality, we can and must help our children cope.
Our school counselors and family advocates remind us that as caring adults, we can make the difference between being overwhelmed by circumstances we cannot control and developing critical life-long emotional and coping skills. Here are a few suggestions for helping to make students feel safe:
- Turn off or monitor the television. Endless news programs are likely to heighten anxiety, and young children cannot distinguish between images on television and their personal reality.
- Maintain a normal routine.
- Stick to facts. Answer questions factually.
- Remember to filter what you say to a child. Avoid graphic details.
- Remain calm and reassuring. Children take their cues from their parents and adults.
- Be optimistic.
- Be a good listener and observer. Pay attention to changes in behavior.
- Take care of yourself. You are better able to help your students if you are coping well. If you are anxious or upset, your students are more likely to be so as well.
The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority. We are in communication with our local police departments and they will be highly visible in the area of our schools today. It takes parents, students, staff and community working together to keep our schools safe places to learn.
Thank you for your continuing support of our schools.
Sue Walker, Superintendent