Deeply saddened, prepared and vigilant—that's how principals at Fridley Public Schools described their response to the Dec. 14, 2012 mass-shooting in Connecticut that killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Here is the text of the letter that each Fridley principal signed and sent to parents. (See also statements from other local schools and school districts: Spring Lake Park, ):
Dear Parents and Guardians,
We are deeply saddened by the tragic school shooting in Connecticut and our hearts and thoughts are with the families and community of Sandy Hook Elementary School. The safety of our students and staff is always our top priority and I would like to take this opportunity to reassure all our families that we take school safety seriously. We have a crisis plan in place at our school to handle emergency situations. Our plan is reviewed and updated annually. We are vigilant about school safety and will continue to work closely with local law enforcement agencies to create comprehensive school security and emergency response plans.
As more details about this tragic incident continue to emerge, it will be important for you to spend time talking with your children and helping them cope with this tragedy. We have counselors at school to provide additional support to students. Here are some helpful tips from the National Association of School Psychologists to help your children cope with this tragedy (http://www.nasponline.org/):
- Focus on your children over the week following the tragedy. Tell them you love them and everything will be okay. Try to help them understand what has happened, keeping in mind their developmental level.
- Make time to talk with your children. Remember if you do not talk to your children about this incident someone else will. Take some time and determine what you wish to say.
- Stay close to your children. Your physical presence will reassure them and give you the opportunity to monitor their reaction. Many children will want actual physical contact. Give plenty of hugs. Let them sit close to you, and make sure to take extra time at bedtime to cuddle and to reassure them that they are loved and safe.
- Limit your child’s television viewing of these events. If they must watch, watch with them for a brief time; then turn the set off. Don’t sit mesmerized re-watching the same events over and over again.
- Maintain a “normal” routine. To the extent possible stick to your family’s normal routine for dinner, homework, chores, bedtime, etc., but don’t be inflexible. Children may have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork or falling asleep at night.
- Spend extra time reading or playing quiet games with your children before bed. These activities are calming, foster a sense of closeness and security, and reinforce a sense of normalcy. Spend more time tucking them in. Let them sleep with a light on if they ask for it.
- Safeguard your children’s physical health. Stress can take a physical toll on children as well as adults. Make sure your children get appropriate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
- Consider praying or thinking hopeful thoughts for the victims and their families. It may be a good time to take your children to your place of worship, write a poem, or draw a picture to help your child express their feelings and feel that they are somehow supporting the victims and their families.
If you have questions or concerns, please contact your child’s teacher or school principal.