In the wake of a shooting that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on Friday, Dec. 14, several schools in the Maple Grove, Minn. area responded.
“We will continue our security practices as usual, but with increased sensitivity and heightened awareness. The most critical thing we are doing is praying,” Maple Grove school Heritage Christian Academy Director of Admissions Julie Herman wrote an email response to a Patch inquiry.
The Osseo School District sent the following communication out to District 279 families the afternoon of Dec. 14, via automated email service, according to a district official.
By now you may have heard about the tragic shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. Our hearts go out to the students, staff, and families affected by this tragedy. Although it took place far from here, we can expect extensive coverage in the news and it will likely be the focus of conversations in our neighborhoods.
It’s important for you to know that the safety of our students and staff is our top priority. Here are some of the things we do to provide secure learning environments:
- Our district has a comprehensive crisis plan that is updated annually.
- Most of our schools have secured entrances so that visitors cannot access the building without going through the main office.
- We have strict visitor protocols and staff who are well trained.
- Our students and staff regularly practice safety drills.
We’d also like to share some tips from the National Association of School Psychologists for helping children cope with news such as this.
What Parents Can Do:
- Focus on your children over the week following the tragedy. Tell them you love them and everything will be okay. Try to help them understand what has happened, keeping in mind their developmental level.
- Make time to talk with your children. Remember if you do not talk to your children about this incident someone else will. Take some time and determine what you wish to say.
- Stay close to your children. Your physical presence will reassure them and give you the opportunity to monitor their reaction. Many children will want actual physical contact. Give plenty of hugs. Let them sit close to you, and make sure to take extra time at bedtime to cuddle and to reassure them that they are loved and safe.
- Limit your child’s television viewing of these events. If they must watch, watch with them for a brief time; then turn the set off. Don’t sit mesmerized re-watching the same events over and over again.
- Maintain a “normal” routine. To the extent possible stick to your family’s normal routine for dinner, homework, chores, bedtime, etc., but don’t be inflexible. Children may have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork or falling asleep at night.
- Spend extra time reading or playing quiet games with your children before bed. These activities are calming, foster a sense of closeness and security, and reinforce a sense of normalcy. Spend more time tucking them in. Let them sleep with a light on if they ask for it.
- Safeguard your children’s physical health. Stress can take a physical toll on children as well as adults. Make sure your children get appropriate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
- Consider praying or thinking hopeful thoughts for the victims and their families. It may be a good time to take your children to your place of worship, write a poem, or draw a picture to help your child express their feelings and feel that they are somehow supporting the victims and their families.
- Schools are a good place for children to regain a sense of normalcy. Being with their friends and teachers can help. Schools also have counselors who can provide assistance to students who need it.
If you are concerned about your student’s reaction to this news, you may want to consult with your school's counselor, your health care provider or United Way 211, (651) 291-0211 or 211.
In a press release, Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius shared information provided to schools on "how staff can talk to their students about events like this" as well as "a resource for parents who receive questions from their child at home." Cassellius also wrote:
"Today, innocent children and educators lost their lives in an unspeakable tragedy. When we send our children to school, we expect they will be safe and secure. Nothing is worse than when our confidence is shaken and the safety of a child is put into question. Our hearts go out to the Newtown community as they begin the long process of healing in the days, weeks and months to come."
For up to date information on the shooting, visit Newtown Patch.