December 17, 2012
Dear Community Members,
I know all of us are deeply saddened by the tragic event that occurred in Connecticut on Friday. As rational people we struggle to understand actions that are totally irrational and try to make sense of explanations that never will.
When we see the faces of the innocent children, the victims of this tragedy, we can’t help but see the faces of our own students. When we hear of the heroic principal and teachers risking their lives to save students, we feel the pain and sympathize with those who knew and worked with these brave individuals. For all of us our hearts are filled with sorrow and as a community we offer our thoughts and prayers to the families in Newtown.
Our staff does an excellent job of having “the pulse” of their school and over the next few days will be paying extra attention to how the students are reacting to this tragedy. If any child seems to be overly upset or concerned about this event, please know that we have outstanding resources available in our schools and students can talk with our highly-trained professional team of Social Workers and Psychologists.
Throughout our district we will be keeping the following in mind:
- Age appropriate discussion in the right classroom context will most likely occur but should not dominate the conversation of the day. This is especially true in the elementary grades where any in-depth conversation is best left to the parents.
- With younger students it is important to make sure they feel safe at school; we will remind them:
– That although this was a very tragic event that has made us all very sad, it did not happen at one of our schools, it did not happen in Dearborn, it occurred in another part of our country.
– Although adults and the news are talking a lot about this tragedy, this is rare and nothing like this has ever happened here.
– Policemen, parents, teachers, and all school staff are here to keep them safe.
As always we want to work with our parents to create the safest possible learning environment. We ask that parents keep the following tips in mind:
- Over-exposure to this horrible event at home may lead to students feeling distressed, overwhelmed, and frightened. It is important to limit the amount of exposure to this event, especially younger children.
- 24 hour news channels will show the same footage over and over. For younger children they may not be able to understand that this event happened once and is not happening again and again.
- School is a safe place and we do have security procedures in place.
As a district it is important for parents to know that we continually work to ensure the safety of students and staff during the school day. We have always and will continue to follow these procedures:
– All staff must have their ID on them at all times and it should be visible.
– All visitors must sign in at the main office and receive a visitor’s pass.
– Students and staff are not to open any exterior doors for anyone.
– As required, all schools practice their emergency drills throughout the year.
– All schools do have a detailed security/crisis plan in place and it is reviewed each year.
– The district has an excellent relationship with the police department and works closely with them to review security protocol and procedures.
We have been in contact with the Dearborn Police Chief and he has informed us that there will be a stepped up police presence around our schools over the next few days.
In the days ahead there will be much discussion about what we as a nation can do to try and stop these types of tragedies from occurring again. I’m sure that there will also be opportunities to support the families and community of Newtown. I hope that all of us personally, and as a district, can be involved in these activities. Although time may mend the wound that shattered this quiet community, those who were lost will never be forgotten.
Please know that by working together we will ensure that all of our schools continue to be a safe place for students to learn and achieve.
Brian J. Whiston
Superintendent of Schools