Local Schools Resume, On High Alert After Sandy Hook Shooting
Local School Districts are taking extra precautions to address safety concerns after Friday’s tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, which left 20 children and six adults dead.
Bentonville Public Schools Superintendent Michael Poore released a letter Monday morning addressing the tragedy.
“If we stop and think about all the senseless shootings,” wrote Poore, “the common denominator is that the shooter(s) was disconnected. They did not feel support, felt estranged and became angry. I cannot help but think what we can do proactively to insure every child we have in our community feels support and has a network of support.”
The Fayetteville School District released a letter to parents and guardians Sunday on its district’s website and social media sites. It shows solidarity with the victims and their families about a shooting that left an entire country in shock.
It also addresses safety issues and parenting advice by the National Association of School Psychologists.
“Addresses some of the safety concerns that parents have about our schools here and also some tips for parents to talk to their children about this particular incident,” said Alan Wilbourn, public information officer for the Fayetteville Public School District.
Safety steps shared in the letter include: staff members having a copy of the crisis management plan, visitors being required to sign in through the main office and requesting additional police patrols and visibility throughout the schools this week.
Bentonville Suprintendent Michael Poore also cited safety as a primary concern.
“There is a reason we make everyone check in at the front office, there is a reason we ask folks to provide us their ID’s when they arrive at our schools, and there is a reason we limit door access. Please know that we do practice lock down type drills and we do review our Crisis Plans on a regular basis,” said Poore.
He went on to say, “We do have crisis plans in place and we are very fortunate to have such great support from the law enforcement community. If you as a parent or staff member witness anything you view as being unsafe, we ask that you contact your principal at the site immediately.”
Fayetteville Public School public information officer Alan Wilbourn also said that everyone will be on high alert.
“Our teachers will be watching for students that seem to be having a little bit of difficulty and we have counselors that are there,” said Wilbourne
The school district started its proactive response as soon as the shooting went public Friday.
“It helps you to redouble your efforts and take a look at your own crisis plan,” Wilbourn said. “We are watching all around the country and looking for some of the best practices of other school districts and how can we incorporate those into our own schools.”
Teachers will also tell students to be aware of any suspicious behavior and the letter highlights that the most important thing is to keep a normal routine.
“We just try to get them through a normal school day,” Wilbourn said. “We only have four more days until the winter break and the secondary schools will begin finals. So we’ll try to just have a normal day at school tomorrow.”
Zena Featherston, director of communication for Fort Smith Public Schools, said they are also taking steps.
“We will have counselors available should a student indicated that he or she wants to speak to someone,” Featherston said in an email to 5NEWS. “Always cause us to review safety plans carefully and be more vigilant in supervising our buildings.”
Mary Ley, spokesperson for the Bentonville School District, said Superintendent Micheal Poore plans send out an email to staff and faculty.
“We will be sensitive to the emotional needs of our students and even more conscious,” Ley said.
Click here to read Fayetteville Superintendent Vicki Thomas’ letter to parents and guardians.
You can also read the letter sent by Superintendent Michael Poore by clicking here.