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Superintendent Nathan Parker Reacts to Newton, CT School Shootings

In light of the horrific shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut this morning, Parker sent the following letter to parents of Summit School District students.

Dear Parents,

The news today of the deaths of a number of children is heartbreaking.  

Several people have asked about how we are handling the news. At a time like this, the unfathomable pain of the parents, surviving children, the classmates, relatives and neighbors causes us to feel great sadness. We look at each other in disbelief that our children might hear of such a tragedy in a community much like Summit.

Although some parents may have the urge to protect children from such news, please understand your children could hear of this incident through media or discussions with their peers.

At school, we have alerted our teachers to listen carefully to the children's casual conversations and have asked them to intervene gently to reassure and to correct misinformation. They will redirect the conversation back to school-related topics after acknowledging the sadness of those deaths.

We recommend that you be careful about your children's exposure to news, network TV with newsbreaks, and newspapers. We suggest you use the following criteria to engage your children in a discussion at home:

  • Listen carefully to what they have heard or seen.
  • Acknowledge the enormous sadness of it.
  • Allow them to talk about their feelings and fears.
  • Answer their questions with brief information.
  • Focus on the issue of death, not murder.
  • If you don't know the information, then tell them that. Don't offer hypotheses.
  • Assure them of their safety and your ongoing presence in their lives.
  • Point out to them how extraordinary this event is and caring adults in millions of homes keep children safe.

This may be a time your child needs reassurance, verbally, emotionally or physically. They may express their feelings through play or drawing thus showing you how they are processing it.

Let us know what you are hearing from your children and we will work together to support them and reassure them.

Health and safety of our students is our number one priority. All of our schools have security procedures in place. Some of which include:

  • Locked doors, security cameras and buzzers
  • Emergency drills on a regular basis
  • Staff training including participation in State and National safety programs
  • Ongoing partnership with police for security and emergency response
  • Protocols for communication within the district and the school
  • Procedures to respond to a variety emergencies

Please note the following link with additional suggestions for talking to children about violence: http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/talkingviolence.pdf

My hope is that you will find this information helpful as we come to terms with this terrible tragedy.

Sincerely,

Nathan Parker

Editor's note: Superintendent Parker's letter was originally published on the Summit School District's web site.

Concerned December 15, 2012 at 01:30 PM
I hope school officials understand that emergency procedures are necessary but what is needed are preventative measures. After 9/11 every company, many with thousands of employees coming and going everyday, increased their access security to the campuses and buildings. Yes is costs money but it is necessary. Every student should have an electronic ID that allows access to the school and it will provide immediate information on who is in the school or who has left the school. Professional Security Guards must be hired to monitor the security access to the school. All visitors must enter through a security guarded check point to have a professional ask why are you here? Who are you here to see? Please open your bags for inspection. The access security is done for every person visiting. The Security Guards are armed and trained in case something goes wrong. School officials need professional guidance on access security to all of our schools.

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