In response to Friday’s tragic school shooting at a grade school in Newton, Connecticut, Wilmette Public Schools Superintendent Ray Lecher wrote a letter to parents of district children, expressing his sadness and providing reassurance.
In the letter, Lecher advises parents on how to talk to their children about the tragedy and assures readers of the district’s commitment to ensure school safety and prepare for potential emergency situations.
Printed below is the superintendent’s statement in full:
Dear Parents and Staff,
Today our nation was struck with a very upsetting event. You may have heard about the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newton, Connecticut. All of us are impacted by senseless tragedies of this nature.
Unlike movies or entertainment programs, news is real. But depending on a child’s age or maturity level, events may be internalized and transformed into something that might happen. Television has a way of shrinking our world and bringing it into our living rooms.
To calm your child’s fears about the news, parents should be prepared to deliver calm and developmentally appropriate information. This includes giving your child space to share fears during an open discussion. You may wish to monitor your child’s access to news on television and computers. Consider watching these events with your child, recognizing that disturbing pictures often drive the news.
Most importantly, we want to assure you that we do everything we can to protect the safety of our students and staff at school. Even today, I spoke with Police Chief Brian King about this very matter. We are fortunate in District 39 to have a full time officer rotating among the buildings on a daily basis. Just last week, we reviewed with the police department our coordinated procedures for these types of incidents. We frequently revisit our crisis plans and work with authorities to ensure that we utilize the most current safety practices.
The crisis teams in each of our schools will be available to students who may need support to cope with this tragedy. Please contact your child’s school if you desire support for your child. School Social Workers and Psychologists are also available to aid parents in discussing the Newton event with their own children.
With deep regrets,
Dr. Ray Lechner
Wilmette Public Schools District 39