Schools react following Connecticut mass shooting
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.”