In light of the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT on Friday, Summit Police Chief Robert Weck is reassuring the public that he and his department are commited to providing Summit students with a safe learning environment.
In a Nixle alert this morning, Weck said the Summit Police Department continues to work closely with the Summit Board of Education to ensure the safety of all students. He said there are several DARE officers who are routinely present at all elementary schools in Summit, and the Juvenile Detective is routinely at Summit High School and Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School.
The department also has an Active Shooter Response Team (ASRT), which has fortunately never been activated, Weck said in the alert. ASRT "actively trains in our school environment for the safety of our children and the school staff and, in fact, just held a training session at one of our elementary schools last Wednesday evening," he said.
Weck said he is always in touch with Superintedent Nathan Parker throughout the year and has been in contact with Parker throughout this past weekend to "answer any questions he may have had and to review emergency plans."
Weck said Summit police officers will stll be in the areas of all district schools during the morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up times, as they are throughout the entire school year.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and all who are affected by this unspeakable act," Weck said in the alert.
Superintendent Parker released a letter to parents of Summit students on Friday with a response to this tragedy, recommendations to limit children's exposure to news reports, and suggestions for engaging with their children in a discussion at home.
See Parker's letter here.
Parker said school went on as normal on Monday and there were relatively few discussions regarding the shooting.
If any students need to talk about the shooting, Parker said there are counselors, psychologists and social workers in every building who are available and were checking in on staff and students throughout the day.
When asked if the district would be reviewing safety procedures in light of this shooting, Parker said, "We’ve gotten suggestions from community members and staff, and this is an opportunity to review our current practices. We’re always reviewing our practices. We update our different practices regularly."
Since Friday, parents all across the country have been thinking about the best way to talk to their own children about the shooting.
According to a New York Times article this morning, here's how one Summit resident decided to speak with her children:
Tenecia H. Valerio, a mother of three children ages 6 and under in Summit, N.J., said she initially vowed not to tell them anything. But she found herself tearing up throughout the day on Friday and finally decided to tell them she was so sad because “a whole bunch of people had died.”
Her family made a memorial with candles and stuffed animals to set on the porch, and she planned to keep it at that. But when her 6-year-old son asked more detailed questions, she told him a “man did a really horrible, mean thing and he went to the school and he hurt and killed people including little children.”
“I would rather me explain it to him as a mother and be there to help him process the information,” Ms. Valerio said, “as opposed to him hearing it somewhere else and me not being able to talk to him or give him a hug when he needs it.”
As it was, he responded with the heartbreaking innocence of a 6-year-old. “He said, ‘I’m glad my school has a camera and a buzzer,’ ” Ms. Valerio recalled.
And then he asked: “ ‘Can we get Dunkin’ Donuts?’ ”
How did you or will you speak with your children about this tragedy? Please tell us in the comments below.