Fayetteville Superintendent Releases Statement on School Shooting

Vicki Thomas

Fayetteville Superintendent Vicki Thomas released the following statement regarding the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting Friday in Newtown, Conn.

December 16, 2012

Dear Parents/Guardians:
We are so saddened by the recent mass shootings in Connecticut and Oregon. We continue to keep the families of the precious children, the dedicated school staff, and those victims at the mall who lost their lives in our thoughts and prayers.

The Fayetteville Public Schools hold the safety of your children and our staff as the top priority. I would like to share with you some of the steps we have in place related to safety and security.

  • Each campus has a lockdown and evacuation plan specifically designed for their campus that has been carefully coordinated with and approved by the Fayetteville Police Department.
  • All staff members have a copy of the crisis management plan for their campus.
  • Police officers have detailed maps of each district building and keys to every door throughout so they have quick access in an emergency situation.
  • Our police have trained all campuses in the most up to date and effective school lockdown procedures.
  • The Fayetteville Police Department uses one of our school sites to train in SWAT tactics related to school shooters.
  • All visitors to the building are required to sign in through the main office.
  • Security cameras are placed throughout the building on all campuses.
  • Principals and assistant principals have been asked to review crisis management plan procedures with their staffs and to be extremely vigilant.
  • Counselors are available on each campus to work with students who may be experiencing anxiety due to these recent events or to provide suggestions to parents on ways to talk with their children about recent events.
  • We have requested additional police patrols and visibility throughout the schools next week.One of the most important things that we can do as a school system is to maintain a normal routine on a daily basis. Routine is critically important for our students and establishes a strong sense of safety and security.
  • I also want to share with you some tips from the National Association of School Psychologists for helping your children cope with news such as this.

What Parents Can Do:
1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. It may be a good time to have your children write a poem or draw a picture to help express their feelings and feel that they are somehow supporting the victims and their families.

9. Find out what resources your school has in place to help children cope. Most schools are likely to be open and often are a good place for children to regain a sense of
normalcy. Being with their friends and teachers can help. Schools should also have a plan
for making counseling available to children and adults who need it.

For more information from the National Association of School Psychologist, see this their resources page at http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/index.aspx.

Please know that every administrator, teacher and staff member of the Fayetteville Public Schools understands the scope of responsibility we share with you in ensuring that your children have a safe environment in which to learn and grow.

Sincerely,

Vicki Thomas
Superintendent

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