Gloucester Public Schools
Our mission is for all students to be successful, engaged, lifelong learners
Richard Safier, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Phone: (978) 281-9800/Fax: (978) 281-9899
Dear Parents/Guardians and Colleagues,
On Wednesday, we all learned of a massive shooting at a Florida high school. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, school staff and the communities affected by this unthinkable tragedy. While reports continue to unfold the circumstances, we know that an incident of this magnitude is troubling to adults and children alike as we struggle to understand why tragedies such as this occur. Please know that the safety of our students, staff and faculty is our number one priority in the Gloucester Public Schools. Our schools continue to work hard at maintaining and refining our building emergency preparedness plans. Our plans have been developed in coordination with local police (I last met with a member of the police department on Monday on just this issue) and the fire and emergency management departments of the City of Gloucester. Their extensive training and guidance has been at the forefront of our plans. We have, in turn, trained our school staffs and regularly practice scenario-based drills at every school. Please be assured that preparedness for emergencies has been and continues to be a top priority in your schools.
Currently, students are safely attending our schools, and may or may not be aware of the most recent incident which occurred just two days ago. As we enter the vacation week, however, this incident will no doubt be discussed among families and throughout the nation for days to come. For your immediate reference, here are some suggestions to help make your children feel safe:
- Turn off or monitor the television. Endless news programs are likely to heighten anxiety, and young children cannot distinguish between images on television and their personal reality;
- Maintain a normal routine;
- Stick to facts. Answer questions factually. “Yes, there was a very sad incident in Florida yesterday, but your teacher and principal are working very hard to keep you safe;”
- Remain calm and reassuring; children take their cues from their parents, teachers and adults;
- Be optimistic;
- Be a good listener and observer; pay attention to changes in behavior;
- Take care of yourself; you are better able to help your students if you are coping well.
If you are anxious or upset, your students are more likely to be so as well. Our schools are ready with counseling support for those children who might need additional reassurance. Please let your school principal or counselor know if you have specific concerns about your student/s. We are in the process of organizing and scheduling our training sessions and drills for the spring (these vary in execution at the different levels–high school, middle school, and elementary school due to the age and developmental stages of the children). For more information, please refer to the National Association of School Psychologists, Talking_To_Children_About_Violence.pdf.
The painful reality is that no school district or public place can ever be completely immune from such senseless violence. We recognize, however, that safety and security does not rest with an individual, a facility, or the district alone, but rather that safety is everybody’s responsibility. We all play a vital role in staying vigilant, aware, and in reporting any concerns.
We are asking all staff and parents to remain engaged with our schools and to know that our safety and security measures are in place. We want our schools to remain welcome and inviting places for all students and families, but please understand that some of our safety and security measures must continue to be a priority regardless of inconvenience. We know that you share in our concern and our focus on safety and security.
Thank you for your support. Please contact your principal with any questions or concerns.
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