Trying to hold themselves together, parents hugged their children a little tighter as they sent them off to school on Monday morning in the wake of Friday's tragedy in which 20 first graders and 6 adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
School officials from Hampton Bays, Westhampton Beach, East Quogue and Remsenburg/Speonk said they are all working to quell both their students' and parent's fears by posting on Facebook, on their respective district's websites and by urging parents to reach out.
On Monday morning, the Westhampton Beach School District posted the following, "In the wake of the horrific events in Newtown, Connecticut, it is important that we work together to assist children who are having difficulty coping with this tragedy. We must establish a sense of safety and security and reassure them that school is a safe place. If your child is experiencing any difficulty, please feel free to contact your child's principal or the school psychologist."
According to Superintendent Mike Radday, the district will have counseling available all week for students and pointed parents to the National Association School psychologists, which offers recommendations on how to talk to children about tragedy.
Principal of the East Quogue School District Robert Long said his district has also brought in counselors for students and Remsenburg/Speonk Superintendent of Schools Ron Masera posted an open letter to parents on the district's website.
Masera wrote, "I am keenly aware that our children, staff members and parents will all feel the impact of this event in different ways. This was a weekend spent thinking about, and praying for, those in the Newtown community, while considering how we best can prepare for the arrival of our own students Monday morning. Please know that the safety of our students is always our highest priority. Our district has an emergency preparedness plan that is reviewed annually and we practice our emergency procedures regularly. Our crisis team is meeting Monday morning and will continue to work with our Board of Education to examine our own protocols as well as the latest guidance from NYSED and the Dept. of Homeland Security."
Masera additionally stated that the district plans to run a myriad of drills over the next couple of weeks from fire, lock down to lock out.
In Hampton Bays, Superintendent Lars Clemensen said there have been a number of conversations among students, staff and parents.
"Friday's events are life-altering and forces us to think about our own communities," he said.
The district, which has made its school counselors and crisis response team available on Monday, is also working to assure parents that their children are safe at school.
He said, "The Hampton Bays Public Schools are a safe place for students and adults. We have many features to our school safety program, both seen and unseen."
However, with that, he said, "We will apply the tragic facts of Sandy Hook School to continue insuring the integrity of our safety program for all students and adults."
Do you think your school district is doing enough to help ease fears? Post your thoughts in the comment section below.
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