A little more than a week ago, on December 14, the second-deadliest school shooting occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. A shooter entered the school, killed 20 children and six staff members, before killing himself.
The events in Newtown have affected the entire nation and will cause waves of change in our country, from the federal level down to the smallest schools. The extent of the effects will not be known, but the impact has been immediate.
On December 17, Blanco Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Buck Ford sent home a letter to parents.
“The events at Newtown have had a profound effect on us here at Blanco,” Dr. Ford’s letter begins. “In a vicarious way, we empathize with those at Newtown. Teachers, administrators, staff, parents, family members, loved ones—it seems everyone in some way can identify with the victims at Newtown. We grieve with the people of Newtown as if we knew them very closely.”
The district has posted a link to the US Department of Education’s “Helping Youth and Children Recover from Traumatic Events” literature on the BISD website (www.blancoisd.org).
“On each campus,” the letter continues, “we have trained counselors to attend to both students and staff who need support as they deal with the impact of these events.
“In almost all cases of tragic events like the one at Newtown, investigators have found that the perpetrator or perpetrators left signs before their action. There were traceable red flags. We ask all of our students, teachers, and community members to be sensitive to suspicious actions and activities, and report them to appropriate officials. Being proactive, and having good communication, can prevent an incident from happening.
“I have thought many times about the school personnel at Newtown, and what they went through that Friday morning. I thought of the courage they displayed, as they put their responsibility to their students ahead of their own lives. I thought, as those school personnel heard those shots, that to them their world was coming to an end, and they stayed there with their students. What made them stay there? Responsibility and obligation yes, but more so love for their kids.
“And I thought, that I have no doubt in my mind that the teachers and staff of our district would do likewise—they would stay with their students until they saw that each one was safely returned to his or her parent or loved one.”
The superintendent then thanks the teachers for the work they do and the parents for their trust in the district.
Many parents are now wondering about the safety of their children at school.
“We have safety procedures in place to address a variety of crisis and emergency situations,” states Dr. Ford’s letter. “We will continue to implement them. In addition, we will review these procedures in light of the events in Connecticut, tighten them where necessary, and make improvements where appropriate. We will also meet with county and local officials to coordinate crisis response procedures.”
Dr. Ford invites anyone with questions or comments to call him or an appropriate campus representative.