The superintendent of Shakopee Public Schools addressed a letter to parents on Dec. 14 after the elementary school shooting in Connecticut. Here is the letter below:
Dear Parents and Guardians,
By now you may have heard about the tragic school shooting that occurred today at an elementary school in Connecticut. Our hearts go out to the students, families and staff at the school.
Already there has been extensive coverage on the news and there will be much discussion in our communities in the coming days. Parents may wonder about their child's safety at school. I assure you that the safety and security of our students and staff is our number one priority. Our school has a comprehensive emergency action plan and our staff receives training in responding to emergency situations. We also have an outstanding relationship with our local law enforcement agencies and other emergency response professionals in our community. We believe our security and safety and educational measures are in place.
I am sharing with you some tips from the National Association of School Psychologists for helping your children cope with news such as this. Here’s what parents can do:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Limit your child’s television viewing of these events. If they must watch, watch with them briefly then turn off the set. Don’t sit mesmerized re-watching the same events over and over again.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. Find out what resources your school has in place to help children cope.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s reaction to this news, please speak with your child’s principal or call me at (952) 496-5005. You can also e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are here to help. Please let us know if we can be of assistance.
Dr. Rod Thompson
Superintendent, Shakopee Public Schools