Schools re­act fol­low­ing Con­necti­cut mass shoot­ing

North Penn Life - - News - By Jen­nifer Law­son jlaw­son@jour­nalregis­ter.com

Fol­low­ing the deadly shoot­ings in­side a Con­necti­cut ele­men­tary school Dec. 14, lo­cal school of­fi­cials said they were try­ing to ab­sorb the tragedy at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School.

crank Gal­lagher, as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent at Soud­er­ton Area School District, said it’s a nor­mal re­ac­tion for stu­dents to won­der if this could hap­pen at their own school.

“Stu­dents, es­pe­cially young chil­dren, could be very up­set dur­ing th­ese times,” he said. “It’s im­por­tant to ap­proach this in a de­vel­op­men­tally ap­pro­pri- ate man­ner and don’t cause harm. Don’t talk about the de­tails, just keep re­as­sur­ing kids that they are safe.”

Soud­er­ton Area School District of­fi­cials sent an email to par­ents and guardians, say­ing the district ex­tends its sym­pa­thy to the vic­tims and fam­i­lies.

“Par­ents should know that this news was not an­nounced to stu­dents in school to­day and that many stu­dents ar­riv­ing at home af­ter school will be un­aware of this event,” the email read. “More in­for­ma­tion on help­ing young­sters cope with tragic events can be found at the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of School Psy­chol­o­gists’ web­site,” the email, which in­cluded a link to the site, stated.

Soud­er­ton school of­fi­cials told staff “to con­tinue to be vig­i­lant and report any­thing out of the or­di­nary. We will also con­tinue to be vig­i­lant, and con­tinue to mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion and re­view our cri­sis plan.”

The North Penn School District re­leased a state­ment through a spokesman.

“Our thoughts are with Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School and its com­mu­nity in re­sponse to to­day’s tragedy. When a hor­ri­ble act like this oc­curs, we feel it is the par­ents’ de­ci­sion on how they dis­cuss such events with their chil­dren,” the state­ment said. “School coun­selors, as al­ways, will be avail­able to as­sist stu­dents who need help deal­ing with this tragedy. The district plans to pro­vide a con­ver­sa­tion guide via the school email sys­tem to our par­ents.”

Jon Slabek, as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal for stu­dent ser­vices at Lans­dale Catholic High School, said part of the school’s cri­sis plan is to have stu­dents and staff prac­tice drills on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

“We have a school lock­down emer­gency drill, a shel­ter in place drill in ad­di­tion to a fire drill and we prac­tice them sev­eral times through­out the school year be­cause you never know when an emer­gency is go­ing to hap­pen,” Slabek said.

dwen Pesca­tore’s chil- dren are in kinder­garten, third grade and sixth grade at hnapp Ele­men­tary School, and she is a mem­ber of the home and school as­so­ci­a­tion.

She said she would most likely speak to her two older chil­dren about the shoot­ing, but didn’t feel her youngest would be able to com­pre­hend it, even though he de­scribed par­tic­i­pat­ing in a drill at the school re­cently.

“He said the drill was in case they had a bad guy come in and their teacher was go­ing to keep them safe,” she said.

On so­cial me­dia, Pesca­tore and other par­ents dis­cussed how this could have been pre­vented, such as metal detec- tors or pass­words to get into school build­ings, “but I think peo­ple will find their way around it.”

Pesca­tore said the best thing schools can do is prac­tice drills and train stu­dents and staff on how to re­act, and the best thing par­ents can do is to trust the schools to keep their chil­dren safe. It’s not a good idea for par­ents to pull their kids out of school af­ter hear­ing about an in­ci­dent like this, she said.

“It’s teach­ing the kids that the school isn’t safe, or you have ques­tions of it be­ing safe,” she said. “In­stead of pick­ing them up, talk to them about it.”

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