Dear Families, Staff and Community,
Our number one priority every day in our schools is the safety of all children. We accept the public trust you place in our hands every day seriously. The recent events in Newtown, Connecticut have caused all of us to reflect on how we can better protect our children in schools and in our communities. We want all children to feel secure and safe while they are in our care and we thank you for your confidence in our schools and staff.
The Clear Lake Community School District has an emergency plan and procedures in place for multiple types of situations that might occur in our schools. we regularly review our District emergency/crisis plan and the associated procedures. Our administrative leadership team will be meeting in January with Chief Peterson, Clear Lake PD to review our current procedures and set up an audit of all our buildings.
Part of developing an emergency/crisis plan involves an audit or assessment of every building with trained personnel from Homeland Security/Emergency Management. This audit helps us identify specific things that we can do to make our schools safer. The District had completed an audit prior to the development of our current plan and we will conduct another audit in all schools/buildings once again as part of this review process.
We want you and your children to feel safe at school and we absolutely understand the fear and concerns that all of us have had after the tragedy in Newtown. In the recent days we have received multiple resources to use in our schools to help children cope and also information that may be helpful for you as parents and families. This is not something that will be forgotten quickly or easily.
In reviewing these resources, the information we received from Dr. David Schonfeld, Director, National Center of School Crisis and Bereavement at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center seems to be the most helpful for adults to talk with children.
The following excerpt is from the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
As the nation watches the reports about the recent Connecticut school shooting, many people may find themselves feeling anxious, worried, saddened or otherwise concerned.
While adults may know how to express their feelings, often they do not know how to talk with children about the way the children are feeling.
- Start by asking your children what he or she has already heard about the events and what questions or concerns they have. Listen for misinformation, misconceptions and any underlying fears or concerns. If the child expresses worries, sadness or fears, tell them what adults are doing to keep them safe and don’t provide false reassurance or dismiss their concerns. Help them identify strategies to cope with difficult feelings.
- Minimize your child’s exposure to media (television, radio, print, internet, social media) and if they do watch, consider recording, screening or watching with them. Remember children often overheard or see what you are watching on TV or listening to on the radio and may be exposed directly as the news evolves through the Internet or social media. While children may seek and benefit from basic information about what happened so that they can understand what is happening in their world, they (and adults) don’t benefit from graphic details or exposure to disturbing images or sounds. The aftermath of a crisis is a good time to disconnect from all media and sit down together and talk as a family.
- Encourage your child to ask questions now and in the future, and answer the questions directly. Like adults, children are better able to cope with a crisis if they feel they understand it. Question-and-answer exchanges provide you with the opportunity to offer support as your child begins to understand the crisis and the response to it.
- Share your feelings about the shooting with your child and the strategies you have used to cope with your concerns, sadness, or other difficult feelings. If you feel overwhelmed and/or hopeless, look for some support from other adults before reaching out to your child.
- Talk about the event with your child. Silence isn’t comforting in crisis situations and suggests that what has occurred is too horrible to even speak of. After a major crisis, even very young children have likely already heard what has happened- but they may not understand what it means.
- Reassure the child that feeling sad, worried or angry is okay. Let your child know that it is all right to be upset about something bad that happened. Use the conversation to take the opportunity to talk about other troubling feelings your child may have.
- If you have concerns about your child’s behavior, contact his or her pediatrician, other primary care provider, or a qualified mental health care specialist.
For information on how to help your children cope with crisis or disasters, please visit the website for the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at www.cincinnatichildrens.org/school-crisis
Please do not hesitate to contact your son/daughter’s building Principal, school counselor, your child’s teacher, or my office (641-357-2181) if you have a concern or a question. We are here to help.
Superintendent of Schools