Letter: Joe Petrone on Newton, Conn. and helping kids cope

December 15, 2012

Dear Moffat County School Community,

We know that most of you heard about the tragic events, which took place at a Connecticut school on Friday, December 14. Our entire community is devastated to learn of the many lives lost in this horrific shooting.

Our grief is profoundly deep and intensified when we think of the innocence of lives lost and the heroic efforts of teachers and administrators. Their quick and deliberate actions undoubtedly saved lives.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the students, staff and families of Sandy Hook Elementary School and the city of Newtown, Connecticut. The thought of so many innocent children and caring adults lost is sobering and extremely sad. The parents, extended families and friends of the victims will forever be affected.

This is a devastating reminder that we must continue to be mindful of the need for strong safety protocols in our schools. Therefore, in the aftermath, we turn our thoughts to safety of our children in Moffat County. This horrifying massacre has aroused worries and questions about our readiness and our ability to counsel children as they cope with senseless death. Some parents will be requesting advice on how to speak with children about this frightening development. Following this letter are several articles and web links to information. We think this information has the potential to be directly helpful.

We honor the range of emotions and we will address collectively and individually any of the issues, which surface from any one of our constituencies, especially our students and their parents. Our immediate aim is to help our children, families and community cope with this tragic loss of innocent lives.

Our District's highest priority is the safety and security of our students and staff, and we will emphatically renew our commitment to maintaining a safe and secure learning environment.

We are fortunate to have a strong partnership with our police and fire departments. As you know, the City of Craig supports us daily with two Security Resource Officers, and we meet regularly with them, and more widely with law enforcement partners, to continually improve the safety and security of our District's campuses.

We have a crisis plan in place for each school campus and conduct regular drills. Our teachers also work with students on drills that prepare them to respond in the safest manner possible, if there is a dangerous situation at school. We encourage vigilance when it comes to securing our entrances and requiring that all visitors check in at our school offices. We use a variety of communication tools to help ensure that families and staff are informed about any incidents as needed.

Our counselors and psychologist are equipped to work with students and their families and provide guidance about ways to discuss the tragedy in an age-appropriate manner. This group of professionals, along with principals and other administrators, are convening early morning, December 17. We will be preparing for student and staff questions and the variety of emotions certain to be present when our children and teachers arrive to school on Monday.

Finally, you might wish to access several helpful links to information regarding talking to your children about school violence and subsequent emotions. The articles, which are reprinted from these helpful sources, are as follows:

· " Helping Children Cope with Tragedy and Related Anxiety" (from Mental Health America)

· " Talking to Children About Community Violence" (from American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)

· " School Violence and the News" (from Kids Health)

· " Helping Children Manage Stress in the Aftermath of a Shooting" (from the American Psychological Association)

Also, please know, any question your have is a good one. We stand ready to assist you, our children and wider community, as we process this atrocious event.

Sincerely,

Joe Petrone, Superintendent

Moffat County School District Re-1

Comments

eieiolrighty 1 year, 7 months ago

I hope that they start asking for ID's when people come into our schools AND why they are there. Not once have I ever been asked to present that driver's license, or any other ID for that matter. I thought that was the reason our district implementing all the new changes; to be able to check people's back-grounds with their ID and to question why they were in the school. I thought that if you didn't have an name tag, you were to be stopped in the hallways. I know this is not going to help with all situations. I just wished that our district was a little more consistent in checking out who people are and why they are there. I hate that the thought that our schools have to be like prisons now, but I hate that thought even more that they might not be safe.

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