With wall-to-wall news coverage of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, parents around the country couldn’t help but wonder if the same thing couldn’t have happened at their own local schools.
Though some school districts had yet to articulate formal, public responses in the hours following the shooting which killed at least 20 children and six adults, officials at schools around the United States were offering one reassurance to parents: We won’t let this happen here.
New York city school chancellor Dennis Walcott said in a letter
released late on Friday that he was in constant communication with the New York Police Department and its school safety division.
“I encourage you to guide your staff and students in maintaining your school’s regular schedule and continuing to be sensitive to the needs of your students as they learn more about this loss,” he said in the letter addressed to colleagues.
Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, issued a statement
on the organization's Facebook page, saying, “The safety and protection of our students is of the utmost importance to our school principals, teachers, staff and administrators and is a responsibility the District takes seriously.”
Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles made his statement
quite brief, expressing sadness over the shootings in Connecticut and assuring parents he and other administrators will take action.
“Our schools are safe, but we will monitor today’s events to determine what additional safety measures can be put in place, especially in our elementary schools,” he wrote.
On its website
, Brookfield Public Schools in Brookfield, Conn., which neighbors Newtown, directed parents to a document from Center Elementary School psychologist Meyer Glaser regarding talking to children about death.
“You can help by reassuring them that someone will always be there to take care of them, should anything happen,” Glaser wrote.
Other administrators went into far more detail about safety procedures and policies.
“I am confident with the safety and security protocols we have in place in our district,” Carolyn M. Kossack, superintendent of schools for the Little Silver School District in Little Silver, N.J., wrote in a letter to parents.
She went on to explain how a March 2011 state law mandates security drills in addition to monthly fire drills. The local police are routinely involved in those drills.
Kossack also wrote that students and staff should keep safety in mind.
“Students and staff are continuously reminded that they are not to open the door for anyone, and parent volunteers are respectfully reminded the same. At no time should any door be propped open,” she wrote.
Superintendent Dan Warwick of Springfield Public Schools in Springfield, Mass., offered a statement
reminding parents of similar routine safety drills as well the presence of cameras, door buzzers, and security officers.
“We will continue to practice these safety protocols with diligence and this year we have allocated an additional $1.2 million for security maintenance and further enhancements,” he wrote.
The Los Angeles Unified School District’s press office issued a press release
promising increased police visibility and patrols Friday “to reduce any fears or anxiety related to today’s incident.”
The release also offered help to students who may have needed it in the aftermath of the shooting and included links to emergency information, mental health resources, and information on how to deal with child trauma.
Newtown Public Schools’ own website
was down Friday afternoon. Visitors were redirected to a page informing them of an evening memorial at a local church.
Matt Wilson is a staff reporter at Ragan.com.