Letter to Parents Regarding Connecticut Incident
Friday, December 14th, 2012

Dear Parents and Arlington Community Members,

We are all sad to hear the unfolding of events in the tragic shooting this morning at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. This is a difficult situation and communicating with your children about a tragedy of this magnitude can be overwhelming.

The safety of our students is our highest priority.  A few years ago, we worked with Arlington Police & Fire, Cascade Valley Hospital and the City of Arlington to put together a comprehensive emergency plan. Each year we hold a number of drills for lock downs, earthquakes and fire according to the plan. Following a drill, our Emergency Management Response Team reviews the success of the drill.  Improving our emergency procedures is part of the district's continuous improvement process. 

We know that over the weekend your children may well have questions or may be responding in some way to the news that will likely dominate the media this weekend - and for some time.  For that reason, we are sharing some information you may find helpful when talking with your children.

Based on your child's age:

  • Minimize or eliminate exposure to the media.  Repeated viewing of the information can contribute to increased anxiety, fear and other symptoms.
  • Minimize your child's exposure to conversations that are occurring about the event.  Seeing and hearing adults overwhelmed or consumed with the information can increase children's fears.
  • Stay calm yourself.Calm adult responses and reactions can go a long way to helping children cope.
  • The primary need of children and adolescents is to feel safe and secure.  Let your child know it is normal to be afraid and adults worry too. Brainstorm ideas for helping them cope with their fear (talking with you and other trusted adults when they are feeling worried, draw, write, physical exercise, listen to music, etc.). Reassure them their school is a safe place to be.
  • Take time to listen carefully to their feelings and worries.
  • Stay with everyday routines.  All of us find safety in the predictable.
  • Watch for significant changes in behavior (i.e. headaches, stomachaches, clinginess, withdrawal, irritability, etc.).
  • If you have any concerns, please contact your school's counselor for additional resources and/or strategies. 

You may find some of these website resource links helpful as well:

abc News

National Association of School Psychologist

When school resumes on Monday, we will be especially alert to students who may need to talk about today's happenings.  We will also be reminding students of the importance of our safety drills and how we appreciate their quick and appropriate response to the efforts we all make to keep schools safe places to learn, grow and work.

Sincerely,

Dr. E. Kristine McDuffy, Superintendent
Andrea Conley, Public Information Coordinator


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