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Thursday February 22, 2018 at 3:58pm Age: 294 days
Category: District


Dear Parents/Guardians:

As we continue to process the news about the unthinkable and horrific school shooting at Marjory Stoneman
Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, we, as adults, and our students, may be seeking help and searching for answers. What can we do? How can we talk with our children about such frightening and incomprehensible acts?

In our own schools, safety is always our top priority. We work every single day to try to prevent any harm to our students and staff, and to prepare for emergencies. Our faculty, staff and students routinely practice different types of safety and security drills. We also rely on strong relationships and close collaboration with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police, and Mount Hope Police.

In the days and weeks ahead, the stories of Parkland victims and their families will continue to dominate daily newscasts, and we will continue to struggle through these anxious times. For our children, exposure to disturbing images and information can be unsettling and traumatic. We share with you some suggestions offered by Parent Today to help us communicate with our children and interpret these events in an age-appropriate way.

Limit the exposure.

The 24-hour news cycle broadcasts major events repeatedly and exhaustively. Watching the same scenes again and again might lead children to believe that traumatic events are consistently occurring. All of us, but particularly children, have a limit to the graphic images we can tolerate. Turn off the TV and limit exposure to images and sounds that may upset children.

Explain what happened.

If your child asks for an explanation to something they see, use language and words he or she can easily understand. Explain the basics – just what’s appropriate for their age level. For young children, what they see on TV feels like something happening nearby. Help them understand that the news they see is not happening at their own school.

Keep calm.

Your children will look to you for guidance in the event of upsetting news. If they are upset, acknowledge their fears and reassure them that you will do everything you can to keep them safe.

Take their fears seriously.

If their behavior changes after seeing or hearing about a major news event, they may be trying to process the information. Encourage your children to talk about what they are thinking and feeling. Hearing their perspective will help you decide how much information you want or need to share. Then help them understand that their fears and concerns are a normal response by sharing how you felt when you heard the same news.

Learn together.

Some older children may want to learn more, and it may help relieve their fears to talk with you.

Keep your regular schedule.

If your child is upset by an event they saw in the news, keep your day-to-day schedule as normal and routine as possible. If bedtime or leaving for school become difficult transitions for your child, spend some extra time helping him or her for a few days.

Look for the positive.

Talk with your children about the people who come to help those in trouble instead of focusing on the negative aspects of the event.

Every time we hear of a tragedy such as the one in Parkland, FL, our hearts go out to everyone involved. I cannot overemphasize that the safety of our students is my number one priority as Superintendent of this district. If you have any questions about safety practices in our schools, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office or your building principal.


Brian C. Monahan