We share in the nation’s grief and concern about the school shootings in Parkland, Florida. As a parent, grandparent and educator, I believe our schools should be one of the safest places for our young people. For the most part, they are.
As a district, our goal is to prevent these types of emergencies whenever possible and be prepared to respond effectively if an emergency should happen. Our educators increase safety by knowing their students by story, strength and need. We use social and emotional learning strategies to help students cope with stress and trauma to prevent harm to themselves or others.
Each school – with our district and city emergency responders – develop a safety plan responsive to its layout and design. Controlling access to our students is part of that plan. Students and staff practice drills so if the unthinkable happens, they know how to respond. We always encourage students to report any threat or safety concern to a trusted adult – including families, staff, 911 or the district Safe Schools Hotline at 206-252-0510.
We know students will likely want to talk about this, particularly because of the amount of information they see on social media and the news. As always, repeated exposure to traumatic images should be minimized. Our schools will be monitoring student reactions and support students who need additional supports.
We encourage you to also have conversations at home with your students. Assure them that adults are doing all we can to make sure their schools are safe. Let them know it is OK to ask for help as they process their feelings.
Most of all, please reach out to your school leaders if there is anything we can do to support you or your student during this time.
Resources that are helpful in discussing troubling events with children: