We have received a lot of feedback that my mom’s message was useful on Friday. She has been working with families and schools this weekend and wanted to get out this follow-up message to Friday’s post for those who are interested.
The schools in our town have been updating families through email and social media, as I would guess they have schools across the country. Check with your local school district for information, procedures and policies.
Ma’s Follow-Up Response:
December 16, 2012
Suggestions for Families Whose Children are Returning to School after the Tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School
After meeting with school crisis response teams this weekend I felt it was important to follow up with some information. I am guessing that most school systems, like those in my hometown, have been busy preparing for school tomorrow. One of the most important things to do after a crisis has occurred is to return to “normalcy” or a semblance of normalcy as soon as possible. As adults, we function better when we are into a routine. This is also true for children. I would venture to guess that each school has decided to increase law enforcement presence either by having the school resource (SRO) officer present, adding on more security staff, and increasing road patrols near the schools.
Review of safety plans, lockdown procedures, and visitor policies have been reviewed and fine tuned. School officials and government officials at local, state and national levels have been in contact. School Administration are knowledgeable and are reviewing and addressing policies and implementing a rigorous plan that organizes staff and supports children.
- Some children have not been aware of the school shootings. If your child is one of those children please know that he/she most likely may come home with questions. In the meetings I have been part of this weekend teachers and all school staff alike are being given a quick study on responses for children asking questions. “Yes, something very sad happened at a school in Connecticut. Our school has a safety plan that we all follow to make this school as safe as possible. You may want to talk about this with your families tonight. Right now we are going to do all the things that we usually do in school!”
- There will be many children who have witnessed the adults in their home discuss the event. Many students will be included in that discussion. Many students may not be able to comprehend the magnitude of this event. As an adult, I cannot. This allows for rumors and false information.
- If your child is experiencing any changes in his behavior please make the school aware of those changes.
- Many children have experienced school anxiety, especially the children in kindergarten. They may regress and leave-taking may once again be difficult. This is to be expected. Children regress when they are anxious or frightened.
- Children take their cues from their parents.
- This will be a difficult week for adults who want to celebrate but also are aware that so many parents will not be with their child this Christmas.
- This event may trigger your own grief and sadness, especially if a loved one has died. Holidays are a difficult time for so many people. Recognize that it is normal to feel mixed emotions…it is ok.
- Take care of yourself and your family. Try to keep you and your children’s routines on track as much as possible. Again, children do much better with predictability and familiarity.
- Make sure you and your children are eating, drinking, sleeping, and exercising. This is not a cure all but it will help you to maintain stability during stressful times.
- I was reminded today that many reports stated that Adam Lanza was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome. This is so unfair to children who have been diagnosed with this disorder. If your child has a spectrum disorder diagnosis or any other trait that makes them a bit different that other children, they may be subject to bullying or increased bullying. Most school staff should be aware that this may occur but just be extra tender to your child and aware that this should not, but could occur.
- Some children may imitate shooting to get attention. Schools may be very intolerant! That being said play is a way for children to process frightening events. Let’s just hope they don’t play this at school!
I am sure that I have forgotten something but I just wanted you to know that school personnel are working hard to keep you children safe.
“Courage is not having strength to go on – it is going on when you do not have any strength…”
Sue Cooper, CCLS