In the wake of Friday’s tragic Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Connecticut, Monday was an emotional day for parents, students, and teachers alike in the Carbon and Emery County School Districts.
With tragedy on everyone’s minds during what should be the most festive time of year, local Superintendents would like to remind parents their children’s safety is the administrationвЂ™s top priority.
Monday morning Emery County Superintendent, Kirk Sitterud, took the time to send an e-mail to all school administrators containing the following thoughts and giving direction to principals about the importance of revisiting the local district and school plans in relation to keeping students safe and healthy:
As a school district we certainly take time to recognize and mourn with the families of the victims of the events surrounding the school shootings this past weekend in Connecticut. В It hits all of us hard when we think of the loss of innocence that took place along with the tremendous sense of loss those families feel at this time. В It is also hard to imagine the possibility that something like this could happen anywhere at any time. We never want schools to become places of carnage and we don’t want them to become prison-like for students either.
While we never anticipate that we will be the target of such senseless violence, we must also recognize that the faculty, staff, students and parents of this elementary school in Newton Connecticut probably never thought it could happen to them.
In light of these events, I would ask that you be extra sensitive today and in the coming days to questions that children might have. В Encourage teachers and staff to be careful not to say anything that would make any student feel that they are not safe at school. В Help them understand that we will do everything we can to make sure that they are cared for and that they are safe. В If any children seem extremely upset, feel free to contact parents, if necessary, and offer counseling through Four Corners.
You may have parents that will ask what we are doing to keep their children safe at school. В They may ask you to explain what measures are in place to insure that their children are taken care of and protected. В In order to respond to these kinds of questions I would ask that each principal review with their faculty and staff, as soon as possible, the School Emergency response plan as it relates to an intruder as well as to other related issues that help us plan for student safetyвЂ¦. We need to take this as a reminder that we need to be prepared. At the very minimum we need to make sure we are well versed in our own safety procedures and protocols.
Again, we grieve with those affected by the events at Sandy Hook Elementary. В We pray for them and we send our wish for them to find comfort.вЂќ
вЂњAt times like this we always reflect on our own schools and what we can do to make sure that the same thing does not happen here,вЂќ Sitterud said.
In instances such as this, not only is there instant loss, but В fear that can consume a nation. Parents are wondering whether our schools are safe for their children, bullet proof backpacks are now being manufactured, and there is the possibility that some children may not return to a public school atmosphere after the Christmas break.
вЂњIn considering all of the priorities of the things we must do in a school year, a school week, or a school day, Carbon School District and its employees understand that the safety of the children we are allowed to work with is our Top Priority,вЂќ said Carbon County Superintendent Steve Carlsen. вЂњIn evaluating the sad tragedy that occurred in Connecticut we are reviewing all of our procedures and we have already convened a meeting with our community law enforcement to re-evaluate everything we do.вЂќ
In the re-evaluation process both Carbon and Emery school district have safety procedures to keep our children safe no matter what the situation may be.
вЂњOur safety procedures involve everything from earthquakes to fires,вЂќ said Carlsen.
Superintendent Sitterud said their position as school administrators is to maintain a place where students can learn and teachers can teach in an environment free from harm.
вЂњNot all tragedies can be prevented. But we as school leaders, parents, students, and communities need to be ready to handle schools crisis situations to keep our children safe and out of harmвЂ™s way,вЂќ said Sitterud. вЂњNo single program or strategy can effectively meet the needs of all students. Successful school safety plans have to involve a variety of broad-based strategies, policies, and programs that focus on improving the overall quality of the school environment. One thing is certain вЂ“ students and educators deserve a safe and orderly environment in our DistrictвЂ™s schools where teachers can promote high standards for learning where all children have the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential.вЂќ
In the case of a school shooting or intruder both districts have a similar plan of attack, school and classroom lockdown. To view the individual procedures for Carbon and Emery school district click on the attached documents below.
вЂњWe all hope that the same thing does not occur in any of our schools, but our school districts take time to prepare, plan, practice, be alert вЂ“ and in the end, pray that our children and teachers never face this kind of tragedy,вЂќ said Sitterud.