A letter written by Superintendent Dr. Sandra Brower on Dec. 15, addressing the Sandy Hook shooting.
Dear Parents and Guardians:
We remain in shock and deep sadness as we are hearing the news and seeing the images coming to us from Newtown, Connecticut where an unspeakable and senseless act of violence occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School yesterday. We are all heartbroken for the families and we join a nation in mourning and in prayer.
The safety of your children is our highest priority in Lacey Township. Feeling safe at school is critical for our students to learn and to be happy at school. As school administrators we are taught to look for the lessons to be learned after a school tragedy so that we can be proactive and responsive in our own school community. In response to this tragedy, school principals and I will discuss with all staff the safety procedures regarding visitors in our schools. In addition, we will again be carefully reviewing our procedures for conducting lock down drills. And last evening, I requested the Lacey Township Police Department provide additional presence in and around our schools as well as increased visibility in our schools during this very sensitive time.
My thoughts are with our Lacey parents as you consider how to talk with your child in the wake of this event in Connecticut. I wondered if you may find yourself asking what you can do to help your child. First, I ask that you consider familiarizing yourself with some of the resources we have provided for you to help you as you help your child through this emotional time. Please speak with your child about the event as you reassure your son or daughter that school is a safe place and that teachers are always ensuring their safety. It will be beneficial to emphasize the importance of following the directions of teachers, support staff and school leaders during drills. This reassurance by you will also provide an opportunity for your child to express concerns. We will be doing the same in the classroom with time-limited, developmentally appropriate discussions and answers to questions. Secondly, please monitor the media to protect your child from overexposure which can contribute to stress and anxiety. Depending on the age of your child, be mindful when having an adult discussion that your child may be listening and may struggle to understand what they are hearing. And lastly, if you observe uncharacteristic behaviors in your child, do not hesitate to contact your child’s counselor.
As a parent myself, I recognize that parents need reassurance as well. Please know that our school principals and staff are committed to ensuring the safety of our students and staff by implementing and consistently reviewing and updating our Safe Schools and Crisis Management Plans. In addition to training this summer, just last week our District Crisis Response Team comprised of school and district leaders, a teacher, our district nurse coordinator, police and a parent set several goals this year which include the development of classroom crisis response protocols and revisions to our current plan to ensure our plans are current. In addition to our District Crisis Response Team, each school has its own School Response Team. Teams are comprised of staff members who have specialized training, knowledge and interest to serve the school in this way. In the end, it takes each and every person to stay vigilant and aware of suspicious behavior. We will continue to teach awareness and we will continue to encourage reporting of suspicious behaviors.
In memory and in respect of those who have lost their lives in Connecticut, please be aware that throughout the district, flags are being flown at half- staff and will remain so through Tuesday.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to us in any way.
Sandra D. Brower
Resources for Coping with School Tragedies