Dear Monroe School Community,
I know that you join me in holding those victims and their families in Newtown in our hearts and prayers. I cannot begin to fathom the intense grief of those who lost children and loved ones in the senseless shooting, and I will never understand why someone would want to harm a child. As I observed parents dropping off their children at the primary building this morning, I sensed an extra urgency in the goodbye hugs and kisses.
This is a time of intense sorrow and anxiety for all school communities in our country, and I felt it was important to share with you some information about safety procedures in our schools, and some general guidance on how to care for our children when they learn about the shootings in Connecticut. Our teachers at the primary and elementary building did not initiate a conversation about the incident with any of our classrooms, but we were prepared to listen to the individual concerns or questions of any of the children.
Our faculty, staff and administration have worked closely with the Monroe Police Department to help ensure that our schools are safe havens for our kids, our staff, and our community. Our School Resource Officer, Brett Kahny, has worked with our building principals and teachers over the years to implement and practice plans and procedures to keep our buildings safe and secure. Our schools restrict access to the main front entrance door, which must be monitored at all times. The safety of our students remains the top priority, and we will continue to emphasize the importance of vigilance on all safety issues.
As you talk with your children, the most important thing that any parent can do is to remind the children that they’re safe, that they are loved, and they are supported. Children, like many of us, will instinctively ask “Why”. It is important not to focus on trying to answer the why, but to listen to our children’s feelings, and determine what we can to help them feel better.
According to the National Association of School Psychologists, parents can use the following tips to talk to children about tragic events:
- Be reassuring
- Be a good listener and observer
- Monitor your children’s access to news reports
- Emphasize people’s resiliency
- Highlight people’s compassion and humanity
- Maintain as much continuity and normalcy as possible
- Spend family time
- Do something positive with your children to help others in need
- As for help if you or your children need it.
For additional guidance on caring for your children through tough times of grief and anxiety, please see the following article:
Dr. Phil Cagwin
Interim Superintendent, Monroe Local Schools